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POLTERGEISTS 



also by Sacheverell Sitwell 

★ 

CANONS OF GIANT ART 
A BACKGROUND FOR DOMENICO SCARLATTI 

LISZT 

DANCE OF THE QUICK AND THE DEAD 
LA VIE PARISIENNE 
★ 

with Cyril Beaumont 

THE ROMANTIC BALLET 
★ 

with Francis Bamford 

EDINBURGH 


m 



POLTERGEISTS 


An Introduction and Examination 
followed by 
Chosen Instances 

★ 

SACHEVERELL 

SITWELL 


with decorations by 
Irene Hawkins 
and silhouettes by 
Cruikshank 



FABER AND FABER LIMITED 
24 Russell Square 

London 


First published in June A'Icmxl 
by Faber and Faber Limited 
34 Russell Square London VP.C. I 
Printed in Great Britain by 
R. AdacLeh ose and Company Limited 
The University Press * Glasgow 
All rights reserved 


m 





To 

the Genius of 

GEORGE CRUIKSHANK 
and 

in particular 
his etchings for 
' Gr imm ’s Household Tales 
and the 

Peter Schlemihl of Chamisso 






THE DRUM 

(The Narrative of the Demon of Tedworth) 

In his tall senatorial 
Black and manorial 
House where decoy-duck 
Dust doth clack — 

Clatter and quack 
To a shadow black — 

Said the musty Justice Alompesson 
c What is that dark stark beating drum 
That we hear rolling like the sea?* 
c It is a beggar with a pass 
Signed by you * C I signed not one * 

They took the ragged drum that we 
Once heard rolling like the sea ; 

In the house of the Justice it must lie 
And usher in Eternity . 

Is it black night? 

Black as Hecate howls a star 
Wolfishly 3 and whined 
The wind from very far. 

In the pomp of the Alompesson house is one 
Candle that lolls like the midnight sun 3 
Or the coral comb of a cock ; . . .it rocks . . * 
Only the goatish snow y s locks 
Watch the candles lit by fright 
One by one through the black night. 

Through the kitchen there runs a hare — 
Whinnying 3 whines like grass 3 the air ; 

It passes; now is standing there 
A lovely lady . . . see her eyes — 

Black angels in a heavenly place 3 

Her shady locks and her dangerous grace . 

9 



THE DRUM 

*/ thought I saw the wicked old witch in 
The richest gallipot in the kitchen!* 

A lolloping galloping candle confesses. 

* Outside in the passage are wildernesses 
Of darkness rustling like witches * dresses .* 

Outgo the candles one by one 
Hearing a rolling of a Drum! 

What is the march we hear groan 
As the hoofed sound of a drum marched on 
With a pang like darkness , with a clang 
Blacker than an orang-outang? 
c Heliogabalus is alone , — 

Only his bones to play upon!* 

The mocking money in the pockets 
Then turned black . . . now caws 
The fire — outside, one scratched the door 
As with iron claws , — 

Scratching under the children’s bed 
And up the trembling stairs . . . * Long dead * 
Moaned the water black as crape. 

Over the snow the wintry moon 
Limp as henbane, or herb paris. 

Spotted the bare trees ; and soon 

Whinnying, neighed the maned blue wind 
Turning the burning milk to snow. 

Whining it shied down the corridor — 

Over the floor I heard it go 

Where the drum rolls up the stairs, nor tarries. 

Edith Sitwell 


io 



THE CAULD LAD O’ HILTON 

(Poem written by a Poltergeist) 

Woe’s me t woe's me> 

The acorn's not yet 
Fallen from the tree 
That's to grow the woody 
That's to make the cradley 
That's to rock the bairn 
That's to grow a man 
That's to lay me. 



ii 





m 


The method of this book is as follows. We begin with an 
Introduction dealing with many Poltergeist stories in general. 
This is followed by the Examination of particular cases, after 
which the Chosen Instances are printed. A story, therefore, 
which is discussed in the Examination will appear, narrated at 
full length from the original sources, among our Chosen 
Instances. These are printed in the same order in which they 
are co mm ented upon in the Examination, so as to facilitate 
reference. The Index at the end of the book will furnish any 
other necessary links between our remarks and the actual 
narratives. 

Sacheverell Sitwell 


13 




CONTENTS 


FOREWORD page 17 

INTRODUCTION 2 $ 

EXAMINATION 77 

CHOSEN INSTANCES 155 

1. The Epworth Phenomena 157 

From letters of his family published by John 
Wesley , and his own account. 

2. The Haunting of Willington Mill 189 

From the Diary of the owner, Mr. John Proc- 
ter, reprinted by permission of the Society for 
Psychical Research. 

3. The Drummer of Tedworth 214 

Reprinted from * Saducismus Triumphatus * 
by the Rev. Joseph Glanvil (1682). 

4. The Haunting of -Hinton Ampner 230 

Reprintedfrom the narrative of Mrs. Ricketts, 
by permission of the Society for Psychical Re- 
search. 

5. Strange Phenomena in a Calvados Castle 268 

From ‘ Haunted Houses’ by Camille Flam- 
mar ion {T. Fisher Unwin, 1924). 

6 . The Poltergeist of the Germans 288 

Reprintedfrom * The Night Side of Nature’ 
by Mrs. Catherine Crowe ( 1849 ). 

7. Report on the Enniscorthy, Derrygonnelly, and 

other Poltergeist cases by Sir William Barrett, 

F.R.S. 328 


Reprinted by permission of the Society for 
Psychical Research. 

15 




CONTENTS 

8. The Great Amherst Mystery page 359 

Reduced from the book of that name by Mr. 

Walter Htibbell ( Brentano , New York, 1888). 

9. The Case of Mr. G in Sumatra 380 

Reprinted by permission of the Society for 
Psychical Research. 

10. The Worksop and Wem Poltergeists: A Report 

by Frank Podmore 387 

Reprinted by permission of the Society for 
Psychical Research. 


INDEX 


417 


FOREWORD 


One or two of the stories of Poltergeists may be famili ar to 
readers. This will be the case, more especially, with the 
Drummer of Tedworth, with Epworth Rectory, and with the 
Cock Lane Ghost. But we have been at pains to gather together 
as many other typical instances as possible. Of their total mys- 
teries we can attempt no general explanation. All we can say is 
that they fall into certain well-defined types. And this, in itself, 
brings us but little nearer to a solution of their secrets. That 
there are haunted houses will be agreed to by all but a minority of 
sceptical readers. If we allow for much exaggeration and distor- 
tion, there remain phenomena which it is impossible to explain. 

In the course of writing this book it has been difficult, some- 
times, to define the Poltergeist, to draw the line that divides it 
from ordinary hauntings and from stories of witchcraft. But 
the lore of witchcraft is closely concerned with these manifes- 
tations and, if we want proof of this, we need only quote the 
famous case of the Cure of Cideville. 1 This begins in March 
1849, and came before the Courts in January and February of 
1851. The scene is Cideville, near Yvetot in Normandy. A 

shepherd, G , of a near-by hamlet, was well known as being 

the wizard or white witch of the neighbourhood. In March 
1849 M. Tinel, the Cure of Cideville, visited a peasant who 

was ill in bed and advised bim to send away G and call in 

a reputable doctor. G was present at this interview, though 

concealed, and swore to be revenged. The Cure had two pupils 
in his house, Lemonier and Bunel, boys of fifteen and twelve 

1 The CideviUe case is reported in de Mirville’s Des Esprits, Vol. I, 
Chapter XI; in Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World, by Robert 
Dale Owen, London, 18605 and in Cock Lane and Common Sense, by 
Andrew Lang, 1894. See also, Proceedings of the Society for Psychical 
Research, Vol. XVII; La Table Pari ante', and Fragment d’un Ouvrage 
Inedit, by the Marquis de Mirville, Paris, 1852. 

b 17 


s.p. 




FOREWORD 

years old. It was G ’s boast that he would turn these pupils 

out of the Cure’s house. A few days later G was arrested 

for illeg al medical practice and sent to prison for some months. 
He suspected, and perhaps rightly, that the Cure was respon- 
sible for this. 

G ’s vengeance now began, taking shape through an 

adept of his, a peasant named Thorel, forty years old, stupid 
and illiterate, and fond of boasting. The villagers had already 
decided in their minds that Thorel would be the instrument of 

G ’s vengeance upon the Cure. But, here, an interesting 

point arises. In order to accomplish his aims, it was necessary 

for the sorcerer to touch his victim. This G could not do, 

as he was in prison. On the other hand Thorel had opportunity 
to do so. On November 25, 1850, Thorel succeeded in touch- 
ing both boys, in a crowd, at a sale of wood. Next day, Novem- 
ber 26, Lemonier, the elder boy, while studying, heard light 
blows of a h amm er, which, henceforth, recurred daily, about 
5 p.m. (a); the Cure heard them, and to his request, ‘Plus fort’, 
the knockings became louder (b); within a day or two, as in so 
many of these cases, they would play popular tunes, on re- 
quest (c); while, at the same time, tables moved about, knives 
and shoes flew round the room, and there was pandemonium in 
the house (d); Lemonier was struck continually by a black 
hand, attached to no body (e); he was dragged by the leg (/); 
and haunted by a human phantasm in a blue blouse (g). 

Thorel invented a pretext to visit the Cure’s house, and the 
Cure made him beg Lemonier’s pardon, thus acknowledging 
his own belief in Thorel’s evil powers. The boy immediately 
recognised Thorel as the phantasm in the blouse. Thorel 
knelt down, asked the boy’s pardon, at the same time violently 
pulling at his clothes. This amounted to the casting of a further 
spell. The other boy, Bunel, supported Lemonier in his evi- 
dence and mentioned that, on November 28, he heard first a 
rush of wind ( h ), and then h amm erings, followed by all the 
other phenomena. 

Thorel was, at this time, boasting in the village that could 
&e but touch one of the boys again, the furniture would move 
of itself and the windows would be broken. Lemonier was s till 
haunted by the phantasm, and nails were driven into the floor 

18 



FOREWORD 

by the Cure at places where the phantom had been seen. One 
nail became red hot, and the wood round it smoked. Lemonier 
said this nail had struck the man in the blouse on the cheek. 
On Thorel’s next visit an identical mark was found on his face 
(i). Meanwhile, true to Thorel’s promise, the furniture was 
moved and the windows were broken. Much excitement had 
already been aroused and many persons came to the Cure’s 
house to watch. One witness, M. Cheval, saw furniture moving 
of itself (/); he slept in Lemonier’s bed, and the pillow blew 
from under his head (k); he lay down between the two boys, 
holding their hands, and placing his feet on theirs; the coverlet 
of the bed rose in the air and floated away (/). Another witness 
saw a desk rise up, pause in the air, and then fall down (m). 
A farmer, Le Seigneur, walking with the boys in the fields, ‘saw 
stones come to us, without striking us, hurled by some in- 
visible force’ («). 

A curious scene followed in front of the Maire, when Thorel 
tried in his presence to touch the Cure, who fled to the end of 
the room and struck at the shepherd with his stick. Thorel 
then brought a case for libel and assault against the Cure, and 
forty-two witnesses were cited. The Maire of Cideville swore 
in Court that before the disturbances began, and three weeks 

after G was released from prison, Thorel had boasted to 

him of what he would do to the Cure. In the end, Thorel was 
non-suited; his counsel suggested an appeal, but nothing more 
is heard of the case. The pupils were sent to their homes, and 
it is said that disturbances continued for some time in the 
house of the younger of the two boys. During the trial, the 
Maire of Cideville deposed to having heard, indirectly, that 
Thorel had once said to one of two companions: ‘Every time I 
strike my cabin (a shelter on wheels used by shepherds) you 
will fall’, and, at each stroke, the victim felt something seize 
his throat, and fell. Another account says that the Maire, him- 
self, was witness to this incident. This piece of peasant witch- 
lore must be many hundreds of years old and should have 
analogies in savage countries. Of the whole trial, Andrew Lang 
says, with truth: ‘A more astonishing example of survival can- 
not be imagined, of survival, or of disconnected and spon- 
taneous revival and recrudescence.’ The same thing, we 

19 



FOREWORD 

believe, might be said of most of these Poltergeist stories; of 
the Dr ummer of Tedworth, which, again, as with the case of 
Rambouillet, see p. 302, is an instance of hauntings induced, 
by revenge, on the part of a countryman, an ‘idle drummer’, at 
Tedworth; a pedlar, in the latter story; or of Epworth Rectory, 
where the Rev. Samuel Wesley had offended the ‘cunning 
men’, or local wizards. 

We have given this summary of the Cideville case because 
it might almost be called the pattern book of Poltergeist 
hauntings, containing as it does every category of the pheno- 
mena, except that of fire. With this one exception, that objects 
in the house are not mysteriously set alight, every other 
variety is present. Thus, for (a) see the Epworth and Ennis- 
corthy cases, and also many others included in this book; 
(6) see, in particular, the Epworth case; (c) the rapping of tunes 
is nearly universal in these cases, but see Epworth, Tedworth, 
and Dr. Eliakim Phelps; (d) this is the ordinary stock-in- 
trade of the Poltergeist; (e) see the Ringcroft and Shchapoff 
cases, among others; (j) this phenomena is reported, though 
we do not quote the passage, in the haunted villa at Coimbra; 
(g) this can be found, too, in other cases; (h) the sound of a loud 
wind was heard in the Epworth case, where it was noticed that 
‘the wind commonly rose after any of these demonstrations 
and increased with it, whistling loudly round the house’, at 
Hinton Ampner, and in a house in Mayor’s Walks, in Peter- 
borough, in 1891, where several witnesses stated that ‘the 
noises were almost always preceded by a low humming sound, 
as if made by a rushing wind’; (t) this is to be found in in- 
numerable cases of witchcraft; (j) once more, this is universal 
in Poltergeist cases; ( k ) see the Great Amherst Mystery; (Z) see 
the Eimiscorthy Case, the story of William Morse, in New- 
berry in New England, in 1679, reported by Increase Mather 
in his ‘Remarkable Providences’, and the case of Councillor 
Hahn; (m) see the A. J. Clarke case; (») this is the ordinary 
phenomena of stone throwing, attested to upon innumerable 
occasions. I am afraid such details may be wearying, but this 
is a remarkable concatenation. We might paraphrase the 
remark of Andrew Lang in Cock Lane and Common Sense, 
that in this case the peasant Thorel ‘might have been familiar 

20 



FOREWORD 

with the whole extent of psychical literature, for he scarcely 
left a single phenomenon unrepresented’. He continues: ‘Is 
there a method of imposture handed down by one generation 
to another?’ and ends with the remark: ‘Our only conclusion is 
that psychological conditions which begat the ancient narra- 
tives produce the new legends.’ This is eminently sensible and 
is, probably, as far as it is possible to go towards any explana- 
tion of these extraordinary stories. It would not be difficult to 
draw up a coincidental table of phenomena, and the details of 
this would range to nearly every country in the world. But, 
in the end, we should be no nearer to a solution of these 
mysteries. 

In writing this book my thanks are due, more especially, to 
the Co mmit tee of the Society for Psychical Research, who have 
given permission to quote the story of Mr. Grottendieck from 
Volume XII of their Journal-, the stories of the cases at Work- 
sop and at Wem from Volume XII of their Proceedings 5 and 
Sir William Barrett’s accounts of the Derrygonnelly and 
Enniscorthy cases from Volume XXV of their Proceedings. 
Further, they have allowed me to reprint the Diary of Mr. 
Joseph Procter, of Willington Mill, from Volume V of their 
Journal ; and the narrative of Mrs. Ricketts, of Hinton Amp- 
ner, from Volume VI of their Journal. For permission to 
reprint this last, I have also to thank the present Marquess 
of Bute. I am, as well, much indebted to Messrs. Ernest Benn, 
of Bouverie House, for their permission to quote Chapter III, 
‘Strange Phenomena in a Calvados Castle’, from Haunted 
Houses by C amill e Flammarion, originally published by T. 
Fisher Unwin in 1924. The Epworth Case has been printed 
from the original authority; and the Drummer of Tedworth 
has been transcribed from Saducismus Triumphatus, second 
edition, 1684, by the Rev. Joseph Glanvil. I have, also, to 
thank Miss Edith Sitwell, and her publishers, Messrs. Gerald 
Duckworth and Co., for her poem, The Drum. The chapter 
on ‘The Poltergeist of the Germans’ has been reprinted from 
The Night Side of Nature by Mrs. Catherine Crowe, 1849. 
‘The Great Amh erst Mystery’ has been copied from the book 
of that name by Walter Hubbell, New York (Brentano’s), 1888. 

21 



FOREWORD 

For the T. B. Clarke Case, in 1874, I have consulted the 
Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research, 
Volume VII, pp. 193-425. 

I must, also, express my indebtedness and obligation to the 
Rev. Montague Summers for his histories of the witches; but 
in particular to his Geography of Witchcraft, 1927: The History 
of Demonology and Witchcraft, and A Popular History of 
Witchcraft. The God of the Witches, and The Witch Cult in 
Western Europe, by Miss Margaret Murray have been not less 
valuable. I must mention, as well. Witches and Warlocks, by 
Philip W. Sargeant, 1936. A special note of thanks is due to 
the March of the Poltergeist, a bibliography of cases by Here- 
ward Carrington and Nandor Fodor, LL.D., in Bulletin I of 
the International Institute for Psychical Research, Limited. 
The books by Harry F. Price on various aspects of Spiritualism 
havje been invaluable, and references are given to them, where 
required. The Haunting of Cashed s Gap, by Harry F. Price 
and R. S. Lambert, is the invaluable modern instance. The 
much derided ‘talking mongoose’ is, as it were, a modem text 
book of hauntings, and will be found of quite exceptional 
interest. A Disturbed House and its Relief, by Ada M. Sharpe, 
describes curious experiences, including loud explosive sounds 
‘like bombs’, that continued for three years, 1905-8, in a 
house at Tackley, Oxfordshire. Two old Icelandic stories, of 
which we give a brief summary, are to be read in Icelandic 
Folklore and Fairy Tales, by John Araason, London, 1862. I 
have also consulted Demonology and Witchcraft, by Sir Walter 
Scotty 1832, a little book which is full of good stories, and has 
additional point in that it was illustrated by George Cruik- 
shank. Cock Lane and Common Sense, 1894, and Dreams and 
Ghosts, 1899, two books by Andrew Lang, contain much infor- 
mation and the reports of many cases. I have consulted, of 
course, innumerable earlier books during the writing of this 
study. The standard work upon the Epworth Case, which is 
to be read, also, in older books, is The Epworth Phenomena, by 
Dudley Wright, London, 1917, There are old, or contem- 
porary, accounts of many other cases, the Stockwell Ghost, 
the Telfair-Mackie case at Rerrick, in Scotland, the Cock 
Lane Ghost, and so forth. For the New England Poltergeist 

22 



FOREWORD 

stories it is necessary to consult the works of the Mathers: 
Magnolia Christi Americana, or an Ecclesiastical History of 
New England, 1702, by Cotton Mather, and Remarkable 
Providences by Increase Mather, 1684. The trials of the Salem 
witches are, so to speak, in combination with these, for the 
Poltergeist cases were, of course, classed as witchcraft. Two 
more Poltergeist stories, which are not further mentioned in 
our text, and of which no plausible explanation was ever 
found, are noticed in Cock Lane and Common Sense, by An- 
drew Lang, 1894. These are the Saint-Maur Case, concerning 
the house of M. Poupart, in 1706; and that of Amiens, which 
was witnessed and described by a Dominican friar, Pere 
Charles Louis Richard, in 1746. Disturbances continued, in 
the house at Amiens, for no less than fourteen years, and in 
both cases all the usual phenomena were present. I must, also, 
mention Bealings Bells, by Major Edward Moor, F.R.S., 1841, 
which is an account of mysterious bell ringing in a house in 
Suffolk, together with a collection of many other similar 
instances. 

Unfortunately, circumstances have prevented my reading 
Narrative of the Stampford Ghost f by the Rev. Caleb Colton, 
1810, an account of extraordinary phenomena in the house of 
Mr. John Chave, Stampford Peverell, near Tiverton, Devon, 
which would appear to be one of the most interesting of all 
the Poltergeist stories. In conclusion, one of the most alarming 
of all these mysteries, which we are unable to quote here, is 
to be found in Chapter V, ‘A Haunted Rest House, 5 of Ju-Ju 
and Justice in Nigeria, by Frank Hives, John Lane, 1930. This 
should be read in conjunction with the narrative of M. 
Grottendieck, reproduced here in, as it were, an Oriental or 
African supplement to these tales. This story from Nigeria 
brings us, indeed, to the threshold of new worlds of super- 
stition. The hut of the Ju-Ju man is as sinister as any witch’s 
cottage. We must believe, if it is credible that there are powers 
of evil, that Benin or Dahomey were their kingdoms. 

Those lan ds of black magic have many possessions that the 

1 Since the above was written I have had an opportunity of reading 
Narrative of the Stampford Ghost , but it is involved and litigious and, 
in fact, disappointing. 


23 



FOREWORD 

north has never known, or has forgotten. They have the 
secrets, benevolent and malevolent, of their blood, things 
which are not lightly to be dismissed or scorned. It may well 
be that the secret to some varieties of these hauntings will be 
found among the tradition^ of native wizards and medicine 
men. Finally, if I have omitted to thank any other authors, old 
or new, to whom I am indebted, this is a last opportunity to 
express to them my obvious, and manifold, obligations. 

• Sacheverell Sitwell 



INTRODUCTION 


We begin this book with a pair of ghost stories, told in 
simple language. Both of them are in the words of young girls, 
one of them written down at the time, the other much later in 
life. Here is the first of them. 

Oct. 7, 1873. ‘I forgot to tell about the last night Mother 
spent at Weston; where the house is supposed to be haunted 
by Mrs. Heber, walking in high-heeled shoes. 

‘A little time after Mother had been in bed, she heard a 
most extraordinary noise of rustling silk. She got up, lighted 
her candle, and looked in every comer of her room, behind the 
tapestry and everywhere, and finding nothing, got into bed 
again. She had not been long in bed before she heard the sound 
of a file, filing away very near. “Well,” she thought, “if there 
are thieves in the house they shan’t get in here,” so she shut 
and barred the shutters and got into bed again, when she heard 
along the passage the sound of little high-heeled boots walking 
to and fro. Mother then became anxious, as she thought who- 
ever the thieves were, they would disturb grandpapa, so she 
got up, armed with an umbrella and made straight for the 
room where the steps had sounded last, and opened the door, 
with her umbrella aimed ready to poke the thief in the face, 
when to her surprise she found the room empty. As she was 
wondering at this, Aunt Puss’s door opened a little bit and 
Aunt Puss’s face peeped out. “Oh, my dear,” said Aunt Puss, 
“what can all this noise be? Isn’t it dreadful!” 

‘ “Well,” said Mother, “I don’t know, but anyone, ghost or 
thief, it will be disturbing Papa.” However, as the source of 
the noise could not be found, Mother had to go back to bed, 
but Mrs. Heber kept on, all night long, treading up and down 
the passages, with her little high-heeled boots, and driving 
away all chance of sleep, so Mother got up, lighted her candle, 

25 




INTRODUCTION 

and read an interesting book till morning. The next day. Aunt 
Puss had the whole house hunted through from top to bottom, 
to see if there were any traces of the thieves, but none could be 
found.’ 

That is the first story. And here is the other. 

‘I slept in the same room with Fraulein Khayn, a companion 
of my mother’s. My bed stood against the wall and hers not far 
from mine, with only a small passage between. Another pas- 
sage remained open between the windows and the bed of 
Fraulein Khayn. On a table between the windows stood a 
water pitcher, a silver basin, and a nigfrdight. The only door 
of the room was at the foot of the bed and was closed. Towards 
midnight I was suddenly awakened by someone who lay down 
beside me in bed. I opened my eyes and saw that it was 
Fraulein Khayn. I asked her why she wanted to come into my 
bed. She answered, “For God’s sake let me be and go to sleep 
quietly.” I wanted to know what had caused her to leave her 
bed and come to mine, for I saw that she was trembling from 
fright and was almost speechless. When I pressed her, she 
said: “Don’t you see what is going on in the room, and what 
is on the table?” and drew the cover over her face. I got on my 
knees, and reached over her to draw away the curtain and see 
what was going on. But I heard and saw absolutely nothing. 
The door was closed; candles, basin, and silver pitcher were 
on the table. I told her what I saw and she became quieter. A 
few minutes later she arose to shove the bolt on the door, but 
it was already locked. I went to sleep again, but the next 
morning she looked wretched and quite distracted. I wanted 
now to know why and what she thought she had seen in the 
night; but she answered that she could not say. I knew that she 
believed in ghosts and visions, and that she often claimed to 
have seen apparitions. She often said that she was a Sunday 
child, and that those who were born on other days did not have 
the dear sight that she had. I related the occurrence to my 
Mother, who was already accustomed to Fraulein Khayn’s 
experiences. Often she had frightened and disturbed my 
Mother. I have often wondered why this experience did not 
make me fearful.’ 

The first of these stories comes from the diary of the writer’s 

26 



INTRODUCTION 

Aunt. It is a gentle beginning to what, we hope, will prove 
frightening in the end. When it was written down, the diarist 
was just under fifteen years of age. The scene of the story is 
the present writer’s home, an old manor house in Northamp- 
tonshire. The ghost of Mrs. Heber is a tradition in the family, 
though she makes but rare appearances. But the rustling of 
her silk dress, the tapping of her high-heeled boots are the 
conventional part of the story. They are the sham eighteenth 
century of Mignon or Manon Lescaut, to music of Ambroise 
Thomas, or of Massenet. The eighteenth century had just, 
then, in the ’seventies, begun to be sentimentalized over. What 
is of more interest is the other sound heard by my grand- 
mother and by her sister. * She had not been long in bed before 
she heard the sound of a file, filing away very near.’ This, as 
we hope to show in the course of this book, and to prove by 
numerous instances, is the machinery of haunting. What it 
means, how, or why it is done, we know not. And we can offer 
no explanation. But this is its signal, or the manner of its 
coming. Anyone who reads further into the narratives here 
collected and examined will feel certain of this. So far as we 
know, where this particular house is concerned, this is the 
solitary instance. There is no other story of that sound. It is 
interesting only because of its close resemblance to details in 
every ope of the experiences that we dte. Nor, although I have 
lived in my home for twelve years, have I ever determined the 
actual rooms involvedj so complicated is the system of little 
staircases and passages. That is, perhaps, fortunate. For there 
is, then, no definite ghost room. 

The old gentleman referred to as ‘grandpapa’, and whom it 
was feared the noises would disturb, was the present writer’s 
great-grandfather, a veteran of the Peninsular Wars, and one of 
the last survivors of the Battle of Waterloo. He died, in fact, 
in 1874, the year after this incident. But the whole diary will 
shortly be published in full. As a writer, it is only fair to say 
that this religious Aunt possessed remarkable literary qualities 
of naivete and clearness, the mid-Victorian scene being ren- 
dered by her with the careful touch of some Dutch seventeenth- 
century painter, only with religious beliefs as naive as those of 
the primitives. Her diary, indeed, might be the complement 

27 



INTRODUCTION 

to Kilvert’s journal. Both writers have the same qualities of 
truth and realism. We may feel certain, and we can say this 
from personal knowledge of the diarist, that she will in no way 
have exaggerated, or altered in detail, the story that she heard 
from her Mother. 

The second of the pair of narratives of our opening is taken 
from the memoirs, written forty years later, by the Empress 
Catherine the Great of Russia. 1 It refers to a visit paid by her 
and her mother to the latter’s godmother, the old Duchess of 
Brunswick, during the exceptionally cold winter of 1740. 
Catherine, at that time, was eleven years old. She was the 
eldest daughter of a particularly poor and obscure German 
princeling, Christian August of Anhalt-Zerbst, paying a visit 
to rich relations, for the Court of Brunswick, after those of 
Munich and Dresden, was the most luxurious in Germany. We 
have thought the story worth notice because of the interest of 
the person whom it concerns, and because as a simple ghost 
story it is so typical. Nothing happens in it, and there is 
nothing seen. We may feel certain, in our own minds, that it 
was no more than the nightmare imaginings of Fraulein 
Khayn. And yet is it so simple? Or so unfrightening? It did not 
make Catherine the Great fearful, but, then, she was one of the 
most extraordinary of women. ‘Don’t you see what is going on 
in the room and what is on the table?’ What was it that 
Fraulein Khayn dreamt, or imagined that she could see? It 
may well have been no less than the murder of the Czar Peter 
III, who was to be the husband of her charge; or it could have 
been another miurder, that of her charge’s son, Paul I, or, 
indeed, more recent murders of that family, not singly, but in 
quantity. A dead body was lying on that table; and had it been 
either the husband or son of Catherine, the sight may well 
have been more frightening than that of other murdered 
corpses. For Peter III and Paul I, both of them, were of 
terrifying appearance. Merely the suggestion of their extra- 
ordinary features would be enough to frighten. 

Now the stories told by these two little girls have this in 
common. Both at the time, and for long afterwards, if they lay 

1 Catherine the Great, by Katherine Anthony, London, Jonathan 
Cape, 1928, pp. 24, 25. 

28 



INTRODUCTION 

awake at night, listening — and there is no mortal being who 
does not do this — each will have remembered this story of her 
childhood. So far these are but ghosts, not old wives’ tales, 
not yet the Poltergeist. But, already, we are in the night world. 
The hauntings have begun. And, soon, those deeper mysteries 
will come. Catherine remarked in her narrative that she often 
wondered why this experience did not make her fearful. This 
can only have been because she was, herself, the pivot or 
centre of a life of such outrageous extravagance and intrigue. 
Always, let us remember, if you lie awake at night, you are 
reassured by the picture of daytime. But, in this pair of 
children, there is a contrast over which it is impossible not 
to delay for a moment. In the first instance, it is the picture of 
mid-Victorian prosperity and peace, of the flowers in the con- 
servatory, the birds in the aviary, the comforts of breakfast or 
tea table, rescue work, and the certainty of a life to come. Of 
such is that diary, but rendered in minu te naivete and detail. 
And how different is the other little girl ! 

No ghost story of her childhood, told in her own words by 
Catherine the Great of Russia, could but call to mind the meta- 
morphosis of this extraordinary being. The Court of Bruns- 
wick, as she wrote this, may have seemed to her as distant as 
the Middle Ages, but what of her own first years in Russia? 
What of the Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great 
and, like her father, a giant in stature? Written down, it is 
probable, in her state bedroom at Tsarskoe Selo, with its 
pilasters of purple glass and walls of porcelain, in a palace the 
whole facade of which had its every statue, pedestal, and 
capital gilded with pure gold leaf, lying close to halls of amber 
and of lapis lazuli, what a contrast there was between this 
classical world of her own creation, carried out to her orders 
by architects from Italy and by Cameron, the Jacobite, and the 
barbarian Russia of her youth. Yet it had ghosts enough; or 
material for such. We need but think of her lovers. The 
elegant and supine Poniatowski, last King of Poland: Orlov and 
Zubov: Potemkin, in whom were present Peter the Great and 
the talents of a Diaghilev. How was it that, falsifying all his- 
tory, this obscure princess, from Anhalt-Zerbst, procured the 
murder of her husband and left her throne to the son she 

29 



INTRODUCTION 

hated, the child of her lover Saltykov, the Romanovs being, 
indeed, not Romanov at all, with no blood of Peter the Great, 
but descended from Saltykov and left by Catherine the 
throne of all the Russias. We could dwell for much longer in 
that world of fantasy, having the wish above all things, where 
time and place are concerned, to see its liveries and the bright 
colours of its ornaments and dresses against the snow, but this 
is not the moment. And so we come back again to Fraulein 
Khayn, whose nightmare, long ago at Brunswick on that 
winter night, may so well have' had prophetic details in its 
horror. 

So far, as we have said, these are but ghosts. We have copied 
down a pair of ghost stories; one of them, the first that came 
to hand, with a hint in it of things that are to come; the other, 
a story taken note of long ago, because of the interest of its 
narrator. The first may have been heard treading in the passage 
a few feet away from me as I write this. But now we move 
from the simple ghost story to the Poltergeist. This is no 
simple haunting. Every few weeks the newspapers have some 
story which tends in this direction. Never a year passes but 
there are these reports. 

The object of this present book is to gather together for dis- 
cussion the few best authenticated cases of the Poltergeist. 
Such a collection of their principal appearances has never, 
perhaps, been made before. For it is our ambition in the light 
of their total to make some contribution, however humble, 
towards the explanation of what is, beyond disputing, one of 
the most curious of human mysteries. Of a certainty it is 
human. There can be no question as to that. And for that 
exact reason it is interesting. We live in an age in which the 
recent exploration of the subconscious has but just been under- 
taken. It has been praised, and we think rightly, as being of a 
comparable importance to the discoveries of a Columbus or 
Magellan. At the same time that dreams and visions have been 
analysed and explained, that the old magic of their interpreta- 
tion has been revived and placed upon a scientific basis, made, 
in fact, into an exact science, there has been a great increase in 
the study of every folk-lore and folk legend from all over the 
world. Old wives’ tales are studied in all seriousness and 

30 



INTRODUCTION 

searched for meaning. The same stories, or their variants., are 
found, inexplicably, in lands far apart, or even in different 
continents. One great body awaits investigation. But it has to 
be cleared, first of all, of so much nonsense and superstition. 
We refer to the trials of the witches in every Christian country; 
but chiefly in England, France, Scotland, and Germany, and 
in the Puritan settlements in North America, and more than 
at any other time, during the seventeenth century. Whether 
or not this is the definite survival, as has been argued by 
Doctor Margaret Murray 1 in her most interesting book, of an 
ancient pagan religion, there are, at least, most curious secrets 
to be gathered. To this world of twilight, or even dark mid- 
night, we relate the Poltergeist. This is where the Poltergeist 
belongs; but not quite, for it has affinities, also, to the seances 
of spiritualism. 2 * 

1 The Witch-cult in Western Europe , Clarendon Press, 1921; and 
The God of the Witches (Sampson Low), 1926. 

2 In his book. Cock Lane and Common Sense (Longmans, Green & 
Co.), 1894, p. 36, et seq: Andrew Lang remarks that: Enough is known 
to show that savage spiritualism wonderfully resembles even in 
minute details, that of modem mediums and stances, while both have 

the most striking parallels in the old classical thaumaturgy Thus, 

either the rite of binding the sorcerer was invented for no obvious 
reason, in a given place, and thence reached the Australian blacks, 
the Eskimo, the Dene Hareskins, the Davenport Brothers and the 
Neoplatonists; or it was independently evolved in each of several 
remote regions; or it was found to have some actual effect — what, we 

cannot guess — on persons entranced We find savage mediums tied 

up in their trances, all over the north, among Canadian Hareskins, 
among Samoyed and Eskimo, while the practice ceases at a given 
point on Labrador, and gives place to Medicine Lodges. The binding 
then reappears in Australia, and in the ancient Greek spiritualistic 
ceremonial. 5 Of the Medicine Lodge, Andrew Lang remarks: ‘The 
Lodge answers to what modem spiritualists call the “cabinet 55 , 
usually a place curtained off in modern practice. 5 The Lodge seen by 
the Jesuit, Pere Lejeune, in 1637, was composed of stout posts, con- 
nected with basketwork, and covered with birch bark. Tt is tall and 
narrow and resembles a chimney. It is very firmly built, and two men, 
even if exerting their utmost strength, would be unable to move, 
shake, or bend it. 5 The Red Indian sorcerers told Pere Lejeune that 
they did not shake the Lodge, but that a great wind entered ‘fort 
promptement et rudement 5 . The sorcerer was a small weak man. 
Lejeune, himself, noted the strength of the Lodge, and saw it move 
with a violence which he did not think a man could have communi- 
cated to it, especially not for such a length of time. Indians swore to 
him that the tabernacle was sometimes laid level with the ground, and 

31 



INTRODUCTION 

What, then, is a Poltergeist? It is not an ordinary ghost. 
The literal meaning of this German term is a spirit that throws 
things about. These are, in the primitive sense, those cases 
of stone or pebble throwing which come fairly often into the 
papers. Never a year goes by but there are reports of them. 
The scene is often, but not always, a lonely farmhouse. But 
at its best, as this book will show, the Poltergeist goes far 
beyond the.mere volleying of little handfuls of stones. Within 
limits, and this is important, for it is, indeed, the limits that 
prove the case, there is almost nothing that the Poltergeist can- 
not do. Knocking and rapping are the second weapon in its 
armoury. Small objects rise up into the air and fly slowly, al- 
ways slowly, across the room; or are thrown from an un- 
occupied room through an open door into the presence of 
witnesses. These flying missiles even move upon curved lines. 
They do not fly straight. And, when they land, they do not roll. 
Neither, if they strike anyone, is he hurt by them. Sometimes 

again that the sorcerer’s arms and legs might be seen projecting out- 
side, while the Lodge staggered about — nay, more, the Lodge would 
rpck and sway after the sorcerer had left it. One Indian swore that he 
had seen a sorcerer rise in air out of the structure, while others, look- 
ing in, said that he was absent. These tales are to be found in Pere Le- 
jeune’s Relation de la Nouvelle France , 1637. A later missionary, P6re 
Amaud, visited the Nasquapees in 1853 and describes how: ‘The 
conjurers shut themselves up in a little Lodge, and remain for a few 
minutes in a pensive attitude, cross-legged. Soon the Lodge begins 
to move like a table turning, and replies by bounds and jumps to the 
questions which are put to the conjurer.’ This account, which is to be 
found in Hinds’ Labrador , Vol. II, p. 102, dates from just after the 
sensational spirit rappings in 1847-8, in the home of the Fox sisters 
at Hydesville, and later, at Rochester, N.Y., which phenomena were, 
in fact, the beginning of modern ‘table turning’. Kohl, in his book, 
Kitcki-Gami , p. 278, writing of 1829, tells a story of the medium being 
seen to crawl into his Lodge, beating his tambour: ‘The entire case 
began gradually trembling, shaking, and oscillating slowly amidst 

great noise It bent back and forwards, up and down, like the mast 

of a vessel in a storm. I could not understand how these movements 
could be produced by a man inside, as we could not have caused them 
from the exterior.’ Meanwhile, two voices, ‘both entirely different’, 
were heard from within, just like the voices heard by Pere Lejeune 
two hundred years before, which spoke Montagnais and Algonquin 
from within the Lodge. It may be only, as we say on another page in 
this book, after study of wizard and shamanistic rites in many remote 
parts of the world that the secret of some of the Poltergeist mysteries 
will be found. 


32 



INTRODUCTION 

the stones, or other objects, if picked up are too hot to hold. 
And then in the end, but not always, a young girl, or a boy 
living in the house, confesses, the haunting ceases, and the 
mystery is supposed to be at an end. But, in reality, it is ending 
just at the moment when it is becoming interesting. 

But there is another thing. The Poltergeist has, in many 
cases, the faculty of starting fires all over the house. In one 
instance, the Great Amherst mystery, lighted matches were 
seen falling from the ceiling. Clothes which have been locked 
away in cupboards, or packed into trunks, burst into flames. 
The house is burnt down. This was the case only a few months 
ago, at that haunted rectory in Norfolk of which Mr. Harry 
Price, the expert investigator, has promised an account . 1 It 
is, of course, easy to argue that the naughty child, or whoever 
is suspected, has been guilty of arson. But is it so simple as 
that? Is it not some power which has got beyond control and 
in its own interests, we grant that, bums down the haunted 
house just when its secrets are in danger? 

The theory is that these manifestations have their centre of 
energy in the person of a child, who performs than, both 
consciously and unconsciously, being gifted, for the time being, 
with something approaching a criminal cunning. More usually 
it is a young girl; but always,girl or boy, it has some connection 
with the be ginning s of puberty. After a time the power passes 
from them, with the quieting, as it might be, of their sensual 
or animal psyche. Sometimes, but not always, the person thus 
gifted is of low or abnormal intelligence. And it should be 
remarked, apropos of this, that in some backward countries 
idiots are looked upon as holy, and our instinct tells us that, 
had they in reality any powers to justify this superstition, we 
should expect of them just what the Poltergeist can perform. 
The holy idiots of old Russia and of Moslem lands, were their 
histories known in detail, would, we may feel certain, give us 
the instances of this. On the other hand, there are stories of 
Poltergeists where it is impossible to fix upon the culprit, 
where neither child nor imbecile person can be suspected. In 
perhaps nine cases out of ten a child is the explanation, but 

1 Borley Rectory, Suffolk, burnt down during the night, February 
27th-28th, 1939. 

c 


33 


S.P. 



INTRODUCTION 

not always. And the contradictions, or exceptions, make the 
whole subject still more interesting. 

But we can say more than this, although little, or nothing, 
is proved by it. At spiritual seances, among so much else that 
is but trickery and falsification, it has been found that during 
the trance of the medium, just before and during the play of 
phenomena, a change takes place in the temperature of the 
room. It is just at the moment when mysterious rappings come 
from tables, walls or cupboards; when the ectoplasm pours in 
loathsome mass from the lips, the ears, the navel of the 
medium, taking on rudimentary or elemental forms, a face that 
is like a bloated foetus, a human hand, but of black and foecal 
digits. There can be, also, telekinesis, the supernormal dis- 
placement of objects. There have even been seen teleplasmic 
limbs, pseudopods, fifth limbs of ectoplasm. ‘From near the 
medium’s foot, which was invisible, I saw an egg-shaped body 
beginning to crawl towards the centre of the floor under the 
table. It was white, and where the light was reflected, it 
appeared oval. To the end nearest the medium was attached 
a thin white neck like a piece of macaroni. It advanced towards 
the centre, and then rapidly withdrew to the shadow.’ 1 In a 
complicated experiment arranged by Mr. Harry Price, lights, 
with which there was no possible contact, have burned for no 
reason. 2 A few years ago, in Northern Italy, the medical 
profession studied the case of a woman who, during her sleep, 
shed forth a mysterious light from her chest. She was admitted 
to the hospital, at Pirano, suffering from asthma, and the 
nurses at that institution declared that she ‘glowed at night’. 
Three doctors sat up to watch this phenomenon. On one 
occasion, ‘at 10.35 p.m. without any sound, there suddenly 
appeared a glow of bluish-white light, which appeared to come 
from tie patient’s chest and lit up her neck and free so as to 
show her features. The light threw no shadow. At the same 
time the woman stirred uneasily in her sleep and moaned. The 
phenomenon lasted for only a second.’ 3 

1 This was witnessed, in the case of the medium Stella C., by 
Dr. E. J. Dingwall. Cf. Stella C., An Account of some original Experi- 
ments in Psychical Research , by Harry Price, London, 1925. 

s The case of Stella C., on 24 May 1923 . 

* Cf. Harry Price, Fifty Years of Psychical Research , London, 

34 



INTRODUCTION 

We may feel certain there will have been a drop in temper- 
ature, during that moment, in the imm ediate vicinity of the 
sleeping woman. At one seance in London, conducted with 
every scientific safeguard and precaution, the mercury fell no 
less than n degrees Fahrenheit, accompanied by violent tele- 
kinetic movements of the seance table. The sudden changes in 
temperature appeared to synchronize with violent telekinetic 
displacements. One commentator remarks on this subject that: 
‘It is not an extravagant hypothesis which finds an explanation 
for supernormal physical phenomena in the withdrawal of heat 
from the circle of sitters, such heat being turned into some 
other form of energy, possibly of a kind not yet investigated by 
science .’ 1 In the case of this particular medium, her powers 
had early manifested themselves, when she was a child. 
‘Curious happenings occurred in her vicinity, happenings 
which we know now must have had a psychic origin, though 
she was quite unaware of their importance or significance. For 
example, she would be sitting reading at a table on which 
stood a vase of flowers, when suddenly a strong cool breeze 
would sweep across, taking in its path the flowers, which bent 
under the strain. The flowers were thought to induce the 
breeze. This would happen when there was no wind, or in a 
closed room. On very rare occasions she noted a brilliant flash 
of light at the precise moment when she entered her bedroom; 
as she opened the door the flash occurred. Occasionally, small 
objects would jerk themselves out of her way as she ap- 
proached; and raps would be heard in various parts of the 
room in which she was present, especially on her bedstead .’ 2 
Such cold air currents, or psychic winds, have been experi- 
enced, we should add, with many mediums. So much so that, 
in fraudulent cases, a chemical powder has been thrown into 

Longmans, Green & Co., 1939, pp. 90, 91; and F. Vitali, Sul Feno- 
meno di Pirano , Roma, 1934. The name of the ‘luminous woman’ is 
Anna Monaro. 

1 Dr. R. J. Tillyard in an article, ‘Science and Psychical Research’, 
in Nature, for July 31, 1926. 

2 All the phenomena in this paragraph occurred in the case of 
Stella C.; cf. Stella C., An Account of some Original Experiments in 
Psychical Research, by Harry Price, London, 1925; and the chapter 
devoted to Stella C. in Fifty Years of Psychical Research by Harry 
Price, London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1939. 

35 



INTRODUCTION 

the air, under cover of darkness, possessed of freezing pro- 
perties, in order to induce the chill feeling upon wrists and 
forehead which is a recognized sign that contact has been made 
and that the mysteries have begun. 

In the case, both of the medium, Miss X., and in that of the 
lumino us woman of Pirano, there are analogies to instances 
of religious ecstasy. These are the sort of stories to be read of 
St. Therese of Lisieux, or even of Joan of Arc. The incident 
with the vase of flowers is typical of St. Therese; that, of the 
light in her bedroom, of St. Joan. You could interpolate either 
anecdote into their lives, and they would fit in, exactly, with 
the context. In both cases, of course, this gift, if we can call 
it that, will have been developed and sharpened by deep 
emotional experiences of religion, and by ascetic practice. All 
three of them, for we include the medium, Miss X., will have 
been so patently virgin, by the very nature of these psychic 
adventures, that we are tempted to wonder whether such 
things can ever befall any person, man or woman, who does 
not fulfil those, apparently, essential conditions . 1 Such, also, 
where the Poltergeist is a child, is the invariable rule. It is a 
trance or ecstasy of the psyche that only in holy India has been 
prolonged beyond childhood, and only there because the 
study of those mysteries has, for thousands of years, amounted 
to a religion in itself. St. Therese of Lisieux, who is so recent 
in history, could be called the pattern of the saintly life in all 
that it can achieve of genuine mystery and wonder. It is 
impossible, even for the sceptic, not to grant to her a magnifi- 
cation of those powers which are accepted, by science, how- 
ever grudgingly, in the seance room. The curious happenings 
during the youth of Miss X. would have been accepted in 
times of faith as a mark of special favour, a consecration or 
setting aside of their recipient for a life of religion. In the care- 
ful hands of priests and nuns she might have ended as a minor 
saint, a beatic, for the Catholic religion has the wisdom to re- 
alize the dangers into which such special gifts can deteriorate. 

The mystery of those currents of cold air, those psychic 
winds which are in sign of an intensification of magical excite- 
ment, or ecstasy, can be carried still further. For it is our 
1 For an exception, see p. 74 (the case of Mme Shchapoff). 

36 



INTRODUCTION 

theory that this feelin g in the pores of the skin is really and 
truly in sign of an enchantment. This is the true communi- 
cation, as well, of music, poetry, or painting. No one who has 
not felt it has understood their secret language. More than 
this, that cold wind is the trance in which inspiration has 
descended. It is in that chill wind upon the wrists and temples 
that the muse has come down to earth. We could believe that 
the writing of poetry, in the persons of its priests or mediums, 
will have been signalized by some atmospheric change as 
material as a fall in temperature. And this is yet more easily 
to be credited in the case of music. For music must affect the 
skin. While music plays, it should be impossible to move. In 
Hindu mythology, at the sound of Krishna’s flute all earth’s 
beings felt his music in the pores of their skins. All instruments 
of music played of themselves . The beasts of the forest listened, 
ravished, unable to move, attentive and with closed eyes, 
others motionless and weeping. Such an effect of music was 
held sacred in antiquity. It was a trance, a sacred trance. And 
the act of listening, while you feel this music in the pores of 
your skin, can be explained if we repeat that sentence which 
refers to other magical effects: ‘It is not an extravagant hypo- 
thesis which finds an explanation for supernormal physical 
phenomena in the withdrawal of heat from the circle of sitters, 
such heat being turned into some other form of energy, pos- 
sibly of a kind not yet investigated by science.’ 

The lives of the saints, just as much as the trials of the 
witches, should be studied for the magical evidence that they 
contain. Not only, we would infer, in a study of their miracles, 
but for the lesser phenomena which were the accompaniment 
to their careers. There were saints, however, like the flying 
saint of Copertino, in Southern Italy, before whom credulity 
would stop short. He invokes direct comparison with Home, 
the medium, just for his feats of levitation which, in the 
exaggeration of that southern public, surpass all sense and 
reason. At the same time, it is nearly as difficult to believe that 
all of it is fabrication. His recent date (he was bom in 1603 
and died in 1663), even in the superstitious miasma of the 
Neapolitan provinces, where he lived and died, calls for some 
modicum of fact. He cannot, we may conclude, have never, at 

37 



INTRODUCTION 

any time of his career, performed any feat whatever of this 
peculiar nature. Making allowance, a thousand times over for 
exaggeration, something must remain. And it is interesting, 
again, that he is described in contemporary accounts as a 
person of low intelligence, able to read but poorly . 1 

Our study of this curious subject now takes us off at what 
may seem, at first, an abrupt tangent, but, in the course of the 
argument we shall hope to establish its relevance. For the 
precise topic under discussion is levitation, or the possibility 
of that, and this brings us to dancing. It was remarked in the 
case of the two greatest male dancers in history, Auguste 

1 In his eighth year St. Joseph of Copertino had an ecstatic vision 
while at school, and this was renewed several times; so that the chil- 
dren, seeing him gape and stare on such occasions, gave him the 
sobriquet, Bocca Aperta! At an adult age he was refused by the 
Friars Minor on account of his ignorance. He then became a lay 
brother with the Capuchins, but his continual ecstasies unfitted him 
for work, and he was dismissed. After this, he joined the priesthood. 
It was then that his miracles began. Frequently he would be 
raised from his feet and be suspended in the air. For thirty-five years 
he was not allowed to attend choir, go to the refectory, walk in pro- 
cession, or say Mass, but was ordered to remain in his room, where 
a private chapel was prepared for him. These strictures were put 
upon him owing to the excitement caused by his appearance, and 
the anticipation of some feat of levitation on his part. He fasted 
continually, and kept seven Lents of forty days each year. Another 
‘flying saint* was the Neapolitan, St. Alphonso Liguori, a character 
of unusual intelligence and saintliness. His levitations came late in 
life, although he was crippled by rheumatic fever to the extent that 
his chin, in its drooping position, had inflicted a serious wound 
upon his chest. The characteristic tilt of his head is to be noticed 
in his portraits; and we are told that he could only drink through 
a tube. In spite of this weak constitution, St. Alphonso JLiguori 
lived to the age of ninety-one years, dying in 1787. A full account of 
St. Joseph Copertino is to be found in the Acta Sanctorum. Lives of 
him were published in 1678 (fifteen years after his death), in 1722, 
and in 1753* He is reputed to have flown upon seventy occasions in 
all; he hovered for a quarter of an hour over the high altar; flew over 
the heads of the congregation in the presence of the Spanish ambassa- 
dor; and, upon occasion, flew with other persons whom he caught up 
by the hair, or round the waist. His flights were always preluded by 
a loud shriek; and he would shriek, and fall into ecstasy, on hearing 
sacred names. The present writer has seen paintings of St. Joseph in 
flight, over the heads of an elegantly dressed seventeenth-century 
congregation in a church of classical architecture, which pictures are 
to be found in the churches of Lecce, in Apulia, a town famous for 
the beauty of its baroque buildings . 

38 



INTRODUCTION 

Vestris and Nijinski, that besides their extraordinary technical 
ability they had the gift of appearing to remain longer in the 
air than any other dancers. With Nijinski, there are number- 
less accounts of how he seemed to stay still for the fraction of 
a second at the height or summit of his leap. It was like a 
breaking of the laws of gravity, and, then, slowly, slowly, he 
came down again. His descent was twice more slow than his 
springing into the air, a delayed descent, a lowering of his 
body to the ground in slow motion trajectory. It is, of course, 
one of the contradictions of human nature that made this most 
miraculously endowed of classical dancers move into a direc- 
tion in which he had no chance to exhibit him self in his 
supreme gifts. The classical figures of a Petipa, or a Perrot, 
were intended for him so much more than the clumsy move- 
ments of Le Sacre du Printemps. His supreme gift, some- 
thing s imil ar or akin to levitation, was possessed also by 
Vestris, and by no other male dancer of whom there is record. 
When questioned about this, Nijinski is said only to have 
made the comment that it was simple. 

But the whole question receives confirmation of its truth in 
a curious manner. Besides Vestris and Nijinski, only Marie 
Taglioni had this gift. It was noticed in her by all her con- 
temporaries. But the special evidence to which we refer comes 
from a manuscript journal that we have seen. It is the diary of 
a young English girl, written in the late ’sixties, or early 
’seventies. The diarist was a fanatical admirer or devotee of 
Taglioni, with whom she was in close association, seeing her 
nearly every day over a period of months. Taglioni had long 
before retired from the stage, and was occupied in giving 
lessons to a few pupils, of whom the diarist was one, but the 
subject taught by her was deportment and ballroom dancing, 
more than ballet dancing, which she would not teach, save in 
exceptional cases. This young girl wrote down in her journal, 
day by day, everything that she remembered of Taglioni’s 
conversations, together with impressions of her. The leaves 
are interspersed, moreover, by the diarist’s clever drawings, in 
coloured chalks, in which Taglioni is to be seen, surprisingly 
enough, to those who only know her in the lithograph portraits 
of her youth, as an old lady in a crinoline. This diary should, 

39 



INTRODUCTION 

most certainly, be printed with its accompanying drawings. 
But its supreme interest to our context is that Taglioni men- 
tions this gift of which we have been talking. She, too, de- 
scribes it as simple, and says that she could teach it to others, 
provided that they had the necessary qualities in them. It was 
a question of breath control, of learning to hold the breath in 
a particular way which lightened the body. Taglioni claimed, 
even, to have taught the secret to one of her pupils, the un- 
happy Emma Livry, who was fatally burned when only 
twenty-one years of age, while dancing at the Paris Opera, in 
1862. The secret perished with her and Taglioni, we are to 
conclude, never found another pupil worthy of having it im- 
parted to her. This transcendental gift in dancing has, then, 
its serious explanation and this knowledge brings us nearer to 
that whole corpus of magical or sense-defying faculties with 
which we are dealing. 

We have come to a region which is as definitely established, 
though unexplained, as that of the water diviner. This terri- 
tory, too, is that of the healer, the thaumaturge. That such 
persons exist, and have peculiar powers, is beyond dispute. 
Their special aptitude, a thing the possession of which, or not, 
in themselves, is never taken consideration of for a moment by 
young men before they decide to take up a medical career, 
must be something physical or which no explanation can be 
given. But, like mediumship, it tempts to trickery, and, once 
exposed, or once mistaken, it is too easily assumed that all the 
original powers are disproved. In the case of a certain well- 
known healer, a French peasant living in the Midi, it has been 
described to me how he will not let you tell him of your ail- 
ment but runs his hands over your body until he comes near 
to the tom muscle, the twisted tendon, or whatever it may be. 
A curious rattling or cracklin g sound is set up between his 
fingers, which might be trying the notes of some stringed 
instrument, and the sinews and muscles of your leg or arm. 
This becomes much louder when he reaches the exact spot, 
and then, with a sort of rending or tearing sound, and much 
excitement, he takes away his hands and the cure has been 
effected. But his hands are perfectly white, the fingers swollen, 
and this chalky pallor extends up his wrists into his open shirt 

40 



INTRODUCTION 

sleeves. For a few moments he is in intense pain. The infer- 
ence must be that he has the faculty literally to remove or 
take away the pain. Having manipulated what was out of places 
or twisted, into its position, the pain passes into him and, after 
a short while, dies away. Upon this occasion, he refused to 
accept any payment. And his promise, that the trouble would 
never come back again, has held good. 

It is in the light of such other human mysteries that we 
come back to the Poltergeist. The throwing, or displacement of 
objects, the knockings or tappings, are not more mysterious. 
In several of the stories that we print, more particularly in the 
haunting of Epworth Rectory, and in the Dr umm er of Ted- 
worth, the ‘spirit’ would play the most complicated games 
with his audience, tapping out any number required, or even 
a tune. You could rap with your own hand and ‘he’ would 
reply; or, even, ask aloud and be answered with the exact num- 
ber that you had requested. In fact, ‘someone’ must have been 
listening; even if it was only a sleeping child, genuinely asleep, 
but also lying, if you will, in a psychic or mediumistic trance, 
self-imposed, a sort of chrysalis sleep, with hidden instincts 
working and, among other things, not so much an exaggerated 
sense of hearing, for there might be thick walls between, but a 
state of receptivity for messages. In the mood, in fact, for 
thought transference. But, also, with what might be termed 
its own executive at work, able and willing to carry out its 
pranks. Someone, put into a trance, or mesmerized, will do as 
he is told, stand up, lie down, and so forth. What we are to 
suppose in such a case as this, is that not only has the sleeping 
child that amount of unconscious obedience, but, also, its own 
powers to carry out these mysteries. The rappings, so often, 
come from the wooden frame of the bedstead, in horrid or 
obscene prophecy of the latent powers in puberty. It is primi- 
tive and horrible, like the gorilla drumming on his stomach to 
communicate with his mate. At Epworth Rectory, it was al- 
ways the one child, Hetty Wesley, who was asleep, but with 
confused breathing and a flushed face. And the ‘luminous 
woman’ of Pirano stirred uneasily in her sleep, and moaned. 
Such are the clues to these mysteries; but we are very far from 
an explanation of them. 


4i 



INTRODUCTION 

They are not ordinary hauntings. Those, indeed, are so 
largely a question of credulity. These are mysteries, which 
may be trickery or deception, but may not. But, before we 
proceed so far, we must look into what association or environ- 
ment can produce. For it is generally to be assumed that the 
Poltergeist is in the present and not the past. It is, so to speak, 
so obviously alive and kicking. And yet, in two of our cases, 
Willington Mill and that which is reported by Lord St. Vin- 
cent, the hauntings hint back. Their direction is backward, 
into the deadness of time. Are we not to believe that happen- 
ings of a dreadful nature must affect the dead walls? The 
lingering, pent-up malice of an old infirm woman, confined 
for fifteen or twenty years, perhaps longer, in one room of a 
house, can this be of no significance to the child who, after- 
wards, must inhabit that stained room? Would you, you your- 
self, who read this, civilian or soldier, like to be billeted in a 
bedroom in a lunatic asylum? And would it not be worse if the 
asylum were empty and you were its one occupant, without 
even the company of those unhappy beings? For we are to 
think that the old woman, the hag or beldame, of our theory, 
will have been of that type of madness which is called ‘pos- 
sessed’, the home or tenement of an evil spirit, prompting her 
to malice and all wickedness. She, again, will have been some- 
thing of the holy idiot, half in another world. But what world? 
Not, assuredly, that of which there could be pleasant dreams, in 
anticipation. 

So many horrid settings could be found for the play of 
environment. Those persons who have read the Penge mystery 
will appreciate my meaning. It will be remembered that this 
horror of the ’seventies concerned a lonely house, ‘The Wood- 
lands’, Cudham, in a remote part of Kent, among the orchards, 
and that this was the home of two brothers, the Stauntons, one 
of them married to a half-imbecile woman, who had a little 
sum of money. The other brother, we say this in parenthesis, 
is described as an artist and it would be easy to imagine the 
charm, the Birket Foster prettiness of his country water- 
colours. It had become the purpose of this pair of brothers, 
and of the other wife, to bring about the death of this weak- 
minded woman. They set about, therefore, to starve her 

42 



INTRODUCTION 

systematically to death. To make things worse, she had a baby. 
They boarded up the windows of her room and never allowed 
her to come downstairs. Her baby was in a wooden box upon 
the floor. Quite soon it died. Her brother-in-law would come 
to her door and taunt her. ‘Well, Harriett! Axe you hungry 
yet?’ On occasion he was heard shouting up the stairs to her: 
‘If you come downstairs I’ll break your d amn ed back like a 
cat’s.’ This comes in the evidence of a maid, who, in 1940, 
could be still alive, and who had to sleep in the room with her. 
Eventually, they became frightened. She was evidently dying. 
They drove her to the station, and took her by train. When 
she came out from the train at Penge, she collapsed upon the 
platform. They had her carried by porters and moved her to 
a lodging, where they called a nurse. The evidence of this 
nurse, as to the horrifying condition of her body— ‘It appeared 
to be covered all over with a down or fur’ (she was covered 
from head to foot with lice, and with sores from her scratch- 
ing) — brought it about that both brothers and the sister-in-law 
were arrested after she had died, a day or two later, and they 
were charged with having brought about her death from 
criminal negligence. They were acquitted of actual murder, 
but sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. We are not told 
what has been the fate of ‘The Woodlands’. Doubtless, if it is 
still standing, the name of it has been changed. But think again 
of that terrible darkened bedroom where Harriett Staunton 
lay dying, tortured by thirst and hunger, and where her baby 
died. The maidservant, in an interview with the papers, 
describes the ravings of this tormented woman. ‘She was like a 
mad skeleton,’ is one phrase she used. Is there anyone, of their 
own free will, who, knowing this, would sleep there without a 
qualm? 

Think, again, of the house of Dr. Buck Ruxton, who lived 
in Lancaster, and murdered his wife and her nursemaid, 
cutting up and dismembering their bodies with a care to 
minute detail that has no parallel in the history of crime. One 
after another, he placed their dead bodies in the bath, whence 
the blood could flow, and must have worked horn: after hour 
before his work was done. We could not envy the happiest pair 
of lovers in the world their experience in that haunted house. 

43 



INTRODUCTION 

And, apropos of curious houses, what of this? It may seem 
remote and far away, but it happened. The scene is Tambor 
(which may be the same as Tambof, between Moscow and the 
Volga), and the year is 1868. The person concerned is Maxime 
Koutzmine Plotitsine, a rich tallow merchant from Morshansk 
(a town between St. Petersburg and Moscow), upon the 
river Tsna. He had settled in Tambor and built himself a 
wooden house. Three of his peasant women, gardeners or 
outdoor servants, were arrested because they had not paid their 
taxes. Plotitsine incurred suspicion because of his repeated 
attempts to obtain the release of these women from prison, 
offering a bribe of forty thousand francs and inventing any and 
every excuse to procure their release. But, as well, Plotitsine 
was already, himself, the subject of comment. The Governor 
of the province sent police to th£ house of Plotitsine. He was 
arrested with his sister, a peasant, and one of his adopted sons. 

When the police knocked at the door it was opened by some- 
one excessively tall, very pale or sallow faced, and with an 
exaggerated high-pitched voice, one of the servants of the 
house. His bulk will have been swollen, his hands soft and 
flabby, his hips like a woman’s. Plotitsine, himself, was in a 
backroom of the house and, together with eleven other persons, 
was taken into custody. In all, searching the house and the 
farm buildings and cottages, twelve m^re adepts, and not less 
than twenty-four women, some of them described as beautiful 
young girls, were removed by the police. They were put on 
trial, and all sent to Siberia. Their secret was this, that they 
belonged to the sect of the Skopi^i, religious fanatics who 
emasculate themselves. Plotitsine, and his sister and his 
adopted son, all self-mutilated in this fashion, had been the 
centre of a cult and had persuaded these peasants and peasant 
girls to this sacrifice. The rites of the Skopiti, about which no 
authentic description is to be found, are said to be celebrated 
in religious frenzy. 1 It would be Plotitsine, himself., who per- 
formed the operation with a red hot knife, as climax, or coda, 
to the orgiastic festival. For some years they had kept their 
secret and increased their number; but when the peasant 

1 More details of lie Skopifi can be read in the present writer’s 
Roumanian Journey (Batsford & Co.), London, 1^38. 

44 



INTRODUCTION 

women were arrested, it was Plotitsine who was terrified, for 
they had been operated upon. At all costs they must be 
brought back from prison. 

Long, ago, that wooden house in Tambor will have been 
destroyed. Almost certainly by fire, for the wooden houses of 
Russian towns seldom have a life of more than a few years. 
But, while it stood, and while its former inmates were in 
prison in Siberia, the house will have kept something of its 
recent history. Men who have turned eunuchs, women who 
have become odalisques, suffer extraordinary and uncanny 
changes. We cannot but think of this large body of men and 
women, as many in number as the inhabitants of a small 
monastery or convent, moving slowly and listlessly, as is their 
wont, wi thin the precincts. How extraordinary their inter- 
rupted love affairs: your lover become your brother; your 
adored mistress become your blameless sister! And the sexes 
flow together, and are intermingled, and pass by. The men are 
like old women. In a few months, when their strength comes 
back to them, if they recover, it is a bovine, or oxlike com- 
placency. The women are like neuter men. We would have 
seen them in a summer thunderstorm; or, looking more yellow, 
in the winter snow. Sitting round the samovar, grouped 
together, monks and nuns. On winter nights they had their 
religious gatherings, with a feast, now and again, for some new 
sacrifice. Plotitsine and his daughter and his adopted son 
owned this neuter race that they had started. He was the 
priest and the rich man and the landowner. The others ware 
but neophytes, if becoming more curious every day. And they 
will have knelt and prayed together, like groups of waxworks, 
like tableaux of prayer or meditation, still groups sewing, or at 
domestic work, ever more listless, almost stopping still. 

And now the Poltergeist — in a clever sketch or parody. 
The curious Phelps case, in the village of Stratford, Connecti- 
cut, in 1850-1 . x It is the home of the Rev. Dr. Eliakim Phelps, 

1 An account of this case is to be found in Bulletin I of the Inter- 
national Institute for Psychical Research, Ltd., Walton House, 
Walton Street. The author, Hereward Carrington, Ph.D., has, in his 
possession, the original accounts of this case, mostly taken from The 
New Haven Journal and Courier of the time. It is, also, mentioned by 
Podmore in his Modem Spiritualism ; in Modem Spiritualism by E. W. 

45 



INTRODUCTION 

Presbyterian minister. He had married, late in life, a widow 
with four children; two girls, of sixteen and six, and two boys, 
of eleven and three years of age. It is suspicious, or remarkable, 
that Dr. Phelps, himself, believed in clairvoyance and had 
treated diseases by means of mesmerism. He seems, too, to 
have brought the trouble upon himself. Early in March of 
that year he was in touch with a gentleman from New York 
who came to him, at Stratford, in order that they should hold 
seances and try to obtain replies, through rapping, to questions 
that they asked. These attempts were, apparently, successful. 
A few days after this, on ioth March, when they came home 
from church, this is what they found. The fiimiture was 
thrown about, all over the house, as if the whole building had 
been ransacked. But the disturbance centred round one par- 
ticular room. In this, they found eleven figures, made out of 
clothing, and arranged so as to form a tableau — a portrayal of a 
scene of prayer. Ten out of the eleven figures were female; all 
were in attitudes of extreme devotion; some with their fore- 
heads nearly touching the floor; others kneeling about the 
room with open Bibles before them which, so we are told, 
indicated different passages sanctioning the phenomena then 
going on. In the centre of the group there was the figure of a 
dwarf grotesquely dressed, and above this a figure suspended 
as though flying through the air. Dr. Webster, a friend of Dr. 
Eliakim Phelps, describes this in two letters written to the New 
Haven Journal. He says: ‘From this time on, the rooms were 
closely watched, and figures appeared when no human being 
could have entered the room. They were constructed and 
arranged, I am convinced by no visible power, with a tout 
ensemble most beautiful and picturesque. The clothing of which 
the figures were constructed was somehow gathered from all 
parts of the house, in spite of the strict watch which was kept 
to see that nothing of the sort could possibly happen. In a 
short space of time so many figures were constructed that it 
would not have been possible for half a dozen women, working 

Capon; and in, 7 %e Spiritualist , for August 1878, and The Spiritual 
Magazine, for 1875. It should be added that this number of the 
Bulletin of the International Institute for Psychical Research, Ltd., 
contains an invaluable bibliography of the Poltergeist, ranging from 
aj>. 530 to 1935. 

46 



INTRODUCTION 

steadily for several hours, to have completed their design and 
arranged the picturesque tableau. Yet these things happened 
in a short space of time, with the whole house on the watch. 
In all, about thirty figures were constructed during this period. 
Some of them were so life-like that, a small child being shown 
the room, thought his mother was kneeling in prayer with the 
rest!’ 

The house was violently disturbed for a period of eighteen 
months. Objects and pieces of furniture were thrown about; 
panes of glass broken; mysterious written messages appeared 
on the walls, and on pieces of paper; and there was almost 
continual rapping, which gave intelligent, but often blas- 
phemous answers to the questions asked. Chairs moved across 
the room, in front of spectators; objects were thrown through 
the windows; letters dropped from the ceiling; and, upon one 
occasion, a vegetable growth sprouted out of the carpet 
pattern. The evidence continues: ‘Again, on one occasion. 
Dr. Phelps, writing at his table, and alone in the room, turned 
away for a moment, and on turning back to his table, found a 
sheet of paper, previously blank, was now covered with strange- 
looking writing, the ink being still wet.’ Another eye-witness, 
Mr. H. B. Taylor, reports: ‘In my presence the elder boy was 
carried across the room by invisible hands and gently de- 
posited on the floor. A supper table was raised and tipped over 
when the room was completely empty of people. In one in- 
stance the boy’s clothes were cut to ribbons. . . . On March 
13th, in the presence of several persons, articles moved 
through the air, and a brass candlestick fell from the mantel- 
piece and continued to dash itself against the floor until 
broken. A shovel and tongs set moved out from the fireplace 
and proceeded to hop about in a dance in the middle of the 
floor. A heavy dining-room table was raised in the air, and a 
lamp moved across the room and set fire to some papers. On a 
later occasion, the boy was found hung to a tree, and the elder 
girl, while sleeping, had a pillow pressed over her head and 
tape tied round her neck which almost strangled her ’ 

Professor Austin Phelps, a son of Dr. Phelps by a previous 
marriag e, says: ‘On one occasion, when Dr. Phelps was alone, 
walking across the room, a key and a nail flew over his head 

47 



INTRODUCTION 

and fell at his feet. That same evening, in the presence of the 
whole family, a turnip fell from the ceiling. Spoons and forks 
flew from the dinner table into the air; and one day six or 
eight spoons were taken up at once, bent double by no visible 
agency, and thrown at those in the room.’ Another witness, 
Mr. Beach, reported in the New York Sun for April 29th, 1850, 
that he was present with several others when, in the room of 
the elder boy, who was sitting up in bed, a matchbox was seen 
to fall to the floor from the mantelpiece, landing with a noise 
like a bar of iron. The box then began to slide towards the bed 
and, when it moved to a position under it, the boy cried out 
that he was being burned. Mr. Beach reached quickly under 
the bed, and found a small piece of paper, which was in flames, 
about the size of half a dollar. He also says that on one occa- 
sion, while the mother and daughter were alone with him in 
the room, where he was observing them carefully, the daugh- 
ter’s right arm stiffened suddenly, and she cried out, T am 
pinched.’ Her sleeve being instantly turned back, disclosed a 
severe fresh pinch mark on her arm. 1 

Another witness, Mr. Horace Dafy, gives this odd piece of 
evidence: ‘On the occasion of my visit Mrs. Phelps hurriedly 
entered the room, reporting her son missing. I was struck by 
the curious fact that only the father seemed much alarmed. 
Later, Mrs. Phelps led the group to the backyard, where the 
boy was found in the hay mound, in a seemingly comatose 
state, from which he recovered in about an hour.’ And we are 
told: ‘Dr. Phelps had striking phenomena when alone with 
Harry, his son, under conditions where the boy could be 
strictly watched. The boy’s clothes were on some occasions 
tom to ribbons!’ Dr. Phelps, himself, in an interview with 
Mr. Charles W. Elliott on August 21st, 1851, says: ‘The 

1 THs particular incident invites comparison with the feats of the 
Rou m a nian Poltergeist girl, Eleonore Zugun, whose case was only 
recently investigated, and who produced - exactly this phenomena, 
even in London, in 1926-7. Cf. ‘Some Account of the Poltergeist 
Phenomena of Eleonore Zugun’, by Harry Price, in Hast Journal of the 
American Society for Psychical Research, August r926. According to 
Mr. Harry Price, and this is a most interesting point, the phenomena, 
in her case both telekinetic and stigmatic 5 ceased abruptly after the first 
appearance of her menses. Now, in his words: ‘at the age of 26, she 
manages her own hairdressing business in Czemowitz, Roumania!’ 

48 



INTRODUCTION 

phenomena have been entirely inexplicable to me. I have fol- 
lowed the slow movement of objects through the air, observing 
carefully their direction, their slow movement, and their 
curving flight, and am convinced that they were not moved by 
any human agency ... the noises are most violent when all 
the family are present, especially when they are seated at 
table. ... I place no value in any of the messages, and if they 
are from spirits they are from evil spirits. ... I am satisfied 
that the communications are wholly worthless, in that they are 
frequently false, contradictory and nonsensical, the spirits 
often accusing each other of lying and constantly inflicting 
injury on persons and property. . . . Fifty-six articles were 
picked up at one time which had been thrown at someone’s 
head. Thirty figures were seen, and twenty window panes 
broken. . . . The phenomena for the past several weeks have 
been subsiding, and have now ceased entirely, I hope!’ 
Actually, their time of activity was from March ioth, 1850, to 
October 1st, 1851. 

‘Some of the papers’, we are told, ‘containing records of the 
phenomena were found tom tp bits or destroyed by fire when 
in locked drawers, with only the ashes remaining. The con- 
tents of the pantry were placed in a heap on the kitchen floor, 
accompanied by loud noises. Loaves of freshly baked cake 
were transported to various parts of the house, and clothing 
removed from locked closets and drawers, and scattered 
through the rooms.’ Mr. Charles W. Elliott states again: ‘In 

the presence of W , who reports for the New Havenjoumal, 

and that of three other witnesses, the following incident 
occurred. They were standing in the hall, outside the chamber 
of the eldest girl, from which loud raps were proceeding. 
Hearing the girl cry out, they quickly opened the door and 
found that her face had a deep red mark on it, where, she said, 
she had been struck. While the girl’s hands were being held in 
an effort to quiet her, a huge porcelain jug was hurled against 
the door with far more force than the frail child could possibly 
have used, even had her hands been free. The jug was broken 
to pieces, and a half-inch indentation made in the door, show- 
ing the violence with which the jug had been thrown. One 
curious feet was that the line of flight was not direct from 

» 49 S.P. 



INTRODUCTION 

where the jug had stood, but in a semi-circle.’ And, finally, 
we have the report of the Rev. John Mitchell that, when he 
accompanied the family to and from the house, articles of 
furniture had been displaced and writing had appeared on the 
walls and on clothing, in their absence. He had seen objects 
thrown, heard noises and screams, and received scurrilous 
answers to questions through the raps. He was convinced that 
these did not occur through trickery on the part of any mem- 
ber of the famil y, and that they were inexplicable ’ 

Let us now examine the case of Dr. Eliakim Phelps and his 
household. The reverend gentleman, himself, may be said to 
have put, the disturbances in motion. As soon as they began, 
Mrs. Phelps was, obviously, no doubter. On the occasion 
when she announced the disappearance of the boy, Mr. 
Horace Day was ‘struck by the curious fact that only the 
hither seemed much alarmed’. Later, the mother led the way 
directly to the backyard where the boy was lying. Another 
time, ‘the boy was hung to a tree, and the elder girl, while 
sleeping, had a pillow pressed over her head and tape tied 
round her neck which almost strangled her.’ Who can doubt 
but that they did this to themselves? Thus far, trickery and 
imposture. 

The incident when the elder girl called out that her arm 
had been pinched invites comparison, as we have said in a foot- 
note, with the feats of Eleonore Zugun, but there is, as we 
shall see, an almost monotonous similarity in certain other 
details or situations between this story and other classical 
cases of the Poltergeist. We refer, at this moment, to the epi- 
sode, just quoted, when witnesses ‘were standing in the hall 
outside the chamber of the eldest girl, from which loud raps 
were proceeding’. They quickly opened the door and found 
her lying in bed. It is, so often, when the young girl is lying 
harmlessly in bed that the most startling of the phenomena are 
likely to occur. Compare (though, in that case, she was sleep- 
ing) Hetty Wesley in the haunting of Epworth Rectory; or, in 
the Drummer of Tedworth, ‘the two little modest girls in the 
bed, between seven and eleven years old as I guess’. 

By this time Mrs. Phelps, we would infer, may have been 
almost actively helping the phenomena. She would at least be 

50 



INTRODUCTION 

disappointed if they failed to occur. It amounted, we would 
suggest, to the point that, had she come into the room and 
found one of the tableaux of figures waiting ready, and a 
single figure of them out of its place and fallen to the ground, 
she would be capable of lifting it up and restoring it to its 
intended position, smoothing down and ruffling its clothes, 
repairing that ‘most beautiful and picturesque effect* so much 
admired by Dr. Webster. To that extent, we would surmise, 
she was in league with the Poltergeist, somewhat proud of it, 
anxious for it to shine. This is mere conjecture, but we feel 
that it is justified by the circumstances. 

Who, then, was this Poltergeist? Was it Harry, his son of 
eleven, found hanging, and in the hay mound in a seemingly 
comatose state? Or the eldest daughter, sixteen years old, 
pinched and struck mysteriously, and discovered with the pil- 
low over her head and tape tied round her neck which almost 
strangled her? It can have been either, or both of them. Thus 
far, as we say, went trickery and imposture. For much else of 
the phenomena seemed to centre, equally, in both of than. 
The boy’s clothes were tom to ribbons; the girl had that ex- 
perience in her bedroom. When the whole family were to- 
gether, ‘the noises were most violent, especially when they 
were seated at table’. Spoons and forks flew about the room; 
the shovel and tongs danced upon the floor. ‘That evening’ — 
this is a delightful touch — ‘in the presence of the whole family, 
a turnip fell from the ceiling.’ 

The rappings answered back with obscenity or blasphemy. 
And the writings that appeared on walls and on articles of 
clothing are mysterious, too. We are not told what the words 
were. This was the Poltergeist in its most unpleasant mood, 
such a guest, exactly, as the ‘talking mongoose’ in the farm 
in Cashen’s Gap. The machinery of these illusions, to regard 
than from the standpoint of a Maskelyn and Devant, is diffi- 
cult to understand. Their writing and spelling should have 
been studied carefully. And should all this trickery be un- 
masked as the work of Harry and his sister of sixteen, does it, 
we may ask, make the mystery less mysterious? Not so 
phenomenal, but just as unpleasant, and just as difficult to 
explain. The curving flight of objects thrown through the air 

5i 



INTRODUCTION 

is symptomatic of the Poltergeist, its greatest mystery, the 
Icing of its tricks, and one which has never yet been under- 
stood. 

We have left, till last, the tableaux, or lay figures. We are 
not told precisely, but may feel certain in our minds, that 
their scene was the dining-room. This would be the room 
for family prayers. The figures were first found, we should 
remember, eleven of them in number, on a Sunday morning 
when the family came back from church. It was the first, and 
most terrific, of the phenomena; a new departure altogether in 
these stories, and a. thing for which there is no precedent. 
There can, of course, beno question whatever thatthey were the 
work of human hands. The first intentipn seems to have been 
pietistic, as if it were a form of good work. Some of the figures 
had open Bibles before them, pointing to passages ‘which 
sanctioned the phenomena then going on 5 , whatever this may 
mean. It is a pity these references are not given us. They 
imply, at least, a considerable degree of Bible scholarship, such 
as a clever girl of sixteen might have had. Also, ten of the 
eleven figures were female. Only one — put in as an after- 
thought?— was the figure of a man. This, again, looks like a 
woman’s handiwork. A boy or man would not be so adept at 
the dressing of these dummies. They started, we say, in a 
mood of piety, but the eternal unpleasantness, the obscenity 
of the Poltergeist, its wish to frighten, came in ‘at the centre 
of the group, where was the figure of a dwarf grotesquely 
dressed 5 . As for the statement that half a dozen women work- 
ing steadily for several hours could scarcely have completed 
this tableau, an inspired worker can do wonders. And it should 
be noted that the statement says, quite naturally, ‘half a dozen 
women 5 . It was the handiwork of women, human or spiritual, 
not men. 

This is an episode which makes one regret the infancy of 
the camera. It was a scene which, so easily, only a few years 
later, could have been photographed, the figures, even, being 
as though posed for a picture, able to keep still indefinitely, 
though ode feds that the next trick of the Poltergeist would 
have been to make them move. We are told, with regard to 
subsequent tableaux: ‘Yet these things happened in a short 

52 



INTRODUCTION 

space of time, with the whole house on the watch.’ It may be 
imagined with what relish the Poltergeist among than must 
have taken on its work of watchman. Thirty figures, in all, 
were found, so it would seem that this entertainment was inter- 
mittent, only put on for particular occasions. The first of the 
tableaux, with eleven figures, may have been the most elabor- 
ate of all. There is no denying that the thought of it is frighten- 
ing. In part, of course, because of the period of the clothes. 
But, in particular, we should have liked much closer detail of 
the figures; whether any of them were in caricature, whether 
some were meant as portraits? Who were the ten women and 
one man? And how were they made? Were they just hung 
upon clothes horses, towel rails, chairs and fenders? How did 
they stand or kneel? How did their foreheads nearly touch the 
floor? But we are confirmed in our feeling that these figures 
may have been most finished and in detail by the ‘beautiful and 
picturesque effect’ referred to, and by the figure of the dwarf, 
grotesquely dressed. It is a thousand pities that Edgar Allan 
Poe, who (died only a year before this, in Baltimore, could not 
have seen them and left us his account. 

This whole episode would seem to be a perversion of the 
children’s game of dressing dolls. The daughter, for we are 
certain it was she, was making a ‘presepio’, for it was Sunday, 
and the whole conception is akin to the ‘presepio’ of Neapoli- 
tan or Bavarian churches, but a ‘presepio’ gone wrong, and 
turned diabolist. How can she have done this in so short a 
space of time, whether she went to church with the family, or 
stayed at home and worked while they were praying, must 
remain the greatest mystery. She had a bedroom, a ‘chamber’ 
of her own. She could creep downstairs and work all night. It 
may be that, on a Sunday, the dining -room was not used till 
luncheon, until they had returned from church, and that, did 
we know more details, the other appearances of these dolls or 
d ummie s were calculated, equally, to be got ready in secrecy, 
and revealed when she knew a room would be opened which 
had been shut, or locked, till then. In conclusion, it would be 
very interesting to hear if there is no parallel to be found in 
the lives of any of the minor saints. For this could be called a 
convent fantasy. We are think ing of the skeletons of saints to 

53 



INTRODUCTION 

be seen in rococo churches in Bavaria and the Tyrol, at Otto- 
beuren, and, best of all, in the church at Hall, near Innsbruck. 
The bones are made to kneel or stand; they have been dressed 
by the nuns in court clothes of Spanish fashion; they are 
jewelled, and their skulls wear crowns and diadems. This, 
again, is doll-dressing perverted. We have said that the 
tableaux or dummy figures of this Phelps case are unique and 
have no parallel in any story of a Poltergeist. But we would be 
prepared to say with certainty, though from conjecture, 
merely, that something similar could be discovered in the 
annals of the nuns and that, among them, it was taken as 
miraculous, accounted a miracle, and has become a legend, 
like a fairy story. 

For effects upon this transcendental scale there must be 
genius, or predisposition. And, before we come to detail, it 
should be said that not only persons, but places, must be 
suited. We have, already, discussed environment, in its histori- 
cal sense of scenes of crime, or violence. A backward, or lonely 
neighbourhood is another asset. The two most remarkable 
mediums of modem times, the brothers Willi and Rudi 
Schneider, came from Braunau, an old town which was the 
birthplace, too, of Adolf Hitler, the perfect type of a medium, 
if ever there was one, who is described in the newspapers, 
upon every dramatic or terrible occasion, as ‘walking like one 
in a trance’, or ‘stepping from his aeroplane, like a person 
absorbed’, and giving vent, alternatively, to the hysterical 
climaxes of the true Poltergeist. We could readily believe that 
this remarkable person, did he feel so inclined, could displace 
objects and move them about in oblique and curving flight; 
could rap out equivocal answers; or cause lighted matches to 
drop down from the ceiling. But, coming back from general- 
ities, we stress again the lonely or the backward neighbour- 
hood. A perfect instance is at Cashen’s Gap, the home of 
‘Jeff’, the ‘talking mongoose’. Ringcroft, in Galloway, is 
another specimen, a backwater of Scotland, which, even now, 
is far behind the times. And the same thin g could be said of 
Epworth Rectory, which is in Lincolnshire, in the Isle of 
Axholme. Several old customs linger in the island, and its 
inhabitants still pride themselves on their distinctness. At 



INTRODUCTION 

Haxley, near Epworth, there used to be the Haxeyhood, a 
custom kept up on Twelfth Day (January 6th). It is thus 
described. A roll of tightly corded canvas was contended for 
by the rustics in a sort of game of Rugby football, with plough 
hoggins (as they were called), in red jackets, acting as umpires. 
The next day there was a morris dance, in character, including 
a ‘farmer’, and a harlequin who was called ‘Billy Buck’, while 
a plough was run round the village cross. This curious custom 
is said to have had some connection with the tenure of land 
by the Mowbray family, not much later than the Norman 
conquest. During the Civil Wars, only seventy years before 
the haunting of the Rectory, the isle of Axholme was described 
as a nest of Royalist rioters who defied authority. A Dutch 
engineer, Vermuyden, had lately, upon command of Charles I, 
installed a system of sluices and brought over Dutch and 
Flemish workmen, the King having made an agreement that 
Vermuyden should hold a third of any lands recovered. During 
the course of these riots the sluices were freely opened to 
flood the country and, in the end, after a regular battle, a 
milit ary force had to be stationed here to protect the en- 
closures. We learn, moreover, and this is an important point 
in the hauntings, that Epworth Rectory was burnt down by 
the turbulent islanders, in 1709, on account of Mr. Wesley’s 
Hanoverian principles. His cattle, also, were maimed by die 
islanders. Finally, in order to have the Wesley family’s own 
opinion of the Isle of Axholme, it is recorded that Hetty 
Wesley, the suspected Poltergeist of the story, described 
Wroot, a village a mile or two away, in her own words, as ‘a 
place devoid of wisdom, wit or grace’. 

Cashen’s Gap, in a remote part of the Isle of Man, in our 
own time is nearly as lonely as this. It is the Ringcroft, in 
Galloway, of the present day. Working upon these principles, 
we should look for Poltergeists, and probably find them, in the 
Forest of Dean and in lonely parts of Herefordshire. But the 
classical instance of the importance of a remote and lonely 
district in the history of superstition in these islands occurs 
in the case of the Lancashire Witches, during the reign of 
James I. For principal scene, there was Malking Tower, in the 
Forest of Pendle, a place that was dreaded by all the surround- 

55 



INTRODUCTION 

ing neighbourhood. 1 The word ‘Malking’ means ‘hare’, a 
form commonly taken by the evil spirit in these stories; and, 
if any more sinister meaning is needed, there is the affinity be- 
tween Malking and Grimalkin, a word that could not better 
describe, in its sound, the serenading of cats in the moonlight 
upon those haunted walls. Malking Tower was the home of 
Elizabeth Southemes, usually known as Old Demdike, and 
given honourable appellation, where the honour of witches is 
at stake, as a ‘rampant hag’. Thomas Potts, the chronicler of 
the Lancashire Witches, describes it as ‘a vaste place, fitte for 
her profession’. The other chief witch, besides Old Demdike, 
was Anne Whittle, known as Old Chattox. Both women were 
eighty years of age; Old Demdike, ‘a very old woman, about the 
age of four score years’; Old Chattox, ‘a very old, withered, 
spent and decreped creature’. The former had been blind for 
two years and was led about by her granddaughter, Alison; the 
latter was nearly blind. 

Most of their machinations were concerned with cats or 
hares. For instance, after making a clay or marl puppet, or 
poppet, of someone she wished to kill, Old Demdike, in her 
own evidence, met with her spirit Tibb, in the form of a black 
cat (from Malking Tower), who bade her go back and do as the 
others were doing. She refused, and the imp pushed her into 
a ditch, upsetting her pail of milk. Later, Tibb appeared again 
in the form of a hare, and followed her along the road for a 
quarter of a mile without speaking. After the arrest of Old 
Chattox and Old Demdike, there was a great meeting of the 
witches of the whole neighbourhood, held at Malking Tower, 
on Good Friday. Its object was to discuss what could be done 
about those of their number who were in gaol, at Lancaster 
Castle, and it is fascinating to think of this meeting. More 
arrests were made; the whole coven was broken up, and the 
trials began. 

The daughter of Old Demdike, Elizabeth Device, was put 
upon trial. She is described by Potts as having *a left eye that, 

1 TheForest of Pendle lies in the hills of south-eastemLancashire, at 
that time a very wild part of the county, in which Roman Catholicism 
lay a long while dying, a circumstance that must be taken into con- 
sideration when the trials of the Lancashire Witches are concerned. 

56 



INTRODUCTION 

from birth, stood lower than the other, the one looking down, 
the other looking up; a preposterous mark in nature!’ She 
confessed nothing until her own natural daughter. Jennet 
Device, a ‘yong maid about the age of nine years’, gave evi- 
dence against her. Then her cursings and ravings became so 
fearful that she was removed from Court and her daughter 
was set up on a table to continue her evidence. Alison Device, 
the granddaughter of Old Demdike, who led her about, was 
already a suspected witch. In fact, Old Demdike and Old 
Chattox had initiated all their descendants and relations into 
the cult. It was, most obviously, a regular and established 
witch’s coven. The best, or most typical description of such 
women comes from a famous contemporary writer upon 
witches: ‘One sort of such as are said to bee witches are women 
which be commonly old, lame, bleare-eied, pale, fowle, and 
full of wrinkles; poore, sullen, superstitious and Papists; or 
such as knowe no religion; in whose drowsie minds the divell 
hath gotten a fine seat; so as, what mischief, mischance, 
calamitie, or slaughter is brought to pass, they are easily per- 
suaded the same is doone by themselves; imprinting in their 
min ds a constant imagination. They are leane and deformed, 
shewing melancholie in their faces, to the horrOr of all that see 
them. They are doting, scolds, mad, divellish, and not much 
diff ering from them that are thought to be possessed by 
spirits. . . . These miserable wretches ... go from house to 
house and from doore to doore'for a pot of milke, yest, drink, 
pottage or some such releefe; without which they could 
hardlie live; neither obtaining for their service and paines, 
nor by their art, nor yet at the divel’s hands (with whome they 
are said to make a perfect and visible bargaine) either beautie, 
monie, promotion, welth, worship, pleasure, honor, know- 
ledge, learning, or anie other benefit whatsoever .’ 1 

The boundaries between ghost and witch and Poltergeist are 
ever in dispute. No history of the one subject can but take into 
account the other two. That is why, and for its own good 
self, that we have delayed, or even gone out of our way to 
Malking Tower in the Forest of Pendle. Lovers of the pic- 
turesque (and that includes the horrible) cannot fail to give 
1 Cf. Dtscoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot, 1584. 

57 



INTRODUCTION 

to it a high place in their imaginations. But here, at this 
present, there is neither time nor place for more. We must 
leave out of our account the second coven, twenty years later, 
of the Lancashire Witches, a prime figure among whom was 
Jennet Device, the former ‘yong maide, about nine years 
old’. 

Nor can we more than touch upon the Essex Witches, a 
subject no less interesting. In this part of England, as Miss 
Margaret Murray points out, animal familiars were especially 
prevalent and figure largely in all the cases. According to this 
authority, their appearance is nearly limited to the eastern 
counties of England. Her stricture is, perhaps, a little exag- 
gerated, for the animal familiar appears frequently, also, in the 
Lancashire Witches and in cases of the Scottish Witches. It is 
necessary for us to bear their presence, real or not, continually 
in min d when we read of Epworth Rectory, of Willington 
Mill, or of their descendant at Cashen’s Gap. Also, where the 
Essex Witches are concerned, we should draw attention to the 
situation of St. Osyth, which was a centre of these disturb- 
ances, for it fulfils every criterion of/listance and remoteness. 
The trials at St. Osyth, which are referred to again on page ioi 
of this book, took place in 1582, and the locality, at that time, 
must have been absolutely upon the edge of the world. It is on 
an extremity of flat land, between the Naze and M,ersea 
Island, about ten miles from Colchester. This lowland, or 
English polder, could scarcely have been more remote. It was 
in this setting that the chief of the St. Osyth Witches, Ursley 
Kempe (cf. page 103), had her dominion; and we read, also, of 
Ales Hunt and her sister Margerie Sammon, the daughters of 
old Mother Barnes, a famous witch. They had ‘two spirites 
like Toades, the one called Tom, and the other Robbyn’, which 
had been given to them by their mother. The stepdaughter 
of Ales Hunt, a litde girl of eight, called Febey Hunt, swore 
that her stepmother had two little thin g s, one black and one 
white, ‘the which shee kept in a little lowe earthen pot with 
woll colour white and black and saith, that shee hath seene her 
Mother to feede them with milk ’. Another witch, Annis Herd, 
according to her daughter, aged seven, had six avices or black 
birds as imps, and another six who lay in a box lined with 

58 



INTRODUCTION 

black and white wool. Thirteen, or according to some autho- 
rities, seventeen or eighteen of these witches, were executed. 
And, in our own day, trippers on their way to or from Clacton- 
on-Sea can stop in a litde cottage in St. Osyth, and for the sum 
of threepence see the skeleton of one of these witches of 
St. Osyth, lying in a grave at the end of the garden, under a 
wooden cover that is lifted up to show her bones with great 
rivets of iron driven through her knees and ankles. It is the 
skeleton of a gigantic woman, who must have been six feet 
two, or three, inches in height. 

We must regret, also, that we have no space here in which to 
write of the Scottish Witches. The trials of witches in Scotland 
are as interesting, if not more so, than those of any other part 
of Europe, more especially because of the copious evidence of 
the witches, themselves, that there existed the land of Elf- 
hame, a magical country, like that of which we read in Goblin 
Market, by Christina Rossetti, with its sinister and wicked 
charm. The folk traditions of the aboriginal Pictish inhabi- 
tants, a very small race of men who lived in excavated caves 
and hollows upon the bleak moorlands, must largely account 
for these beliefs. Those primitive inhabitants may have re- 
sembled, racially, the Laplanders; and more than one autho- 
rity has pointed out the Lapps, even to-day, wear the con- 
ventional clothes, and the peaked caps, of faery lands, or Elf- 
hame. What a fascinating subject, and how sad it is that we 
must leave it, without the time to examine Doctor Fian, 
Major Weir, or, most interesting of all, Isobel Gowdie, the 
Auldeame Witch, who gave her evidence voluntarily, and 
without torture, in 1662! There is, perhaps, no such complete 
picture of the witches, or of the old ‘Dianic’ cult, as Miss 
Margaret Murray would have it, as in this instance. And we 
cannot part from the Scottish Witches without a mention of 
the Forfar Witches of 1661, who met in Forfar churchyard, 
when at their revels. ‘Andrew Watson hade his usuall staff in 
his hand, altho he be a blind man yet he danced alse nimblie 
as any of die companye, and made also great miriement by 
singing his old ballads, and that Isobel Shyrrie did sing her 
song called Tinkletum, Tankletum; and that the divill kist 
every one of the women.’ These revels had their tragic ending 

59 



INTRODUCTION 

at the stake. The witches’ fires burned very late in Scotland, 
until the r eign of William and Mary, and even of Queen Anne; 
several witches being burned quick (or alive) on the Gallow 
Green at Paisley in 1697, and others, on the top of Spott 
Loan in 1705; the last of these Scottish executions taking 
place at Dornoch, in June 1722, during the reign of George I. 
This last of the witches was charged with having used her 
daughter as her ‘horse and hattock’, causing her to be shod 
by the devil, so that she was lame and crippled in both hands 
and feet. It was in the chill of the early morning that this old 
and senseless woman was brought out to the stake and tar 
barrel, brought to bum her, upon Dornoch sands; and while 
preparation was being made, she sat warming her hands at the 
bonfire in which she was so shortly to be consumed. The 
grandson of this woman, son of the bewitched mother, and 
lame and crippled in her likeness, was known to, if not seen by. 
Sir Walter Scott, who in his Letters on Demonology and Witch- 
craft says of him, writing in 1830, that he ‘was living so lately 
as to receive the charity of the present Marchioness of Stafford, 
Countess of Sutherland in her own right’. 1 

We come, now, to the witches of New England in the Puri- 
tan settlements of die seventeenth century, for here was a 
flouris hing centre for the Poltergeist. In these colonies of 
Dissenters a complete reproduction of the current civilization 
of the English countryside, in so much as they had been used 
to it themselves, in their denial of all luxury and idle extrava- 
gance, is to be noticed in the trials of the Salem Witches. This 
is the fourth ‘locale’, or breeding ground, of the witches in the 

1 There is a curious story that one of the last of the race of the Great 
Auks was burnt as a witch in Scotland early in the nineteenth century. 
No doubt, like the penguins, it had a human walk and human manners, 
and this brought it from the wild cliffs where it was caught to the funeral 
pyre. We cannot resist, at this point, the temptation to tell an appro- 
priate story from southern Italy. Some fifteen years ago when I was at 
Amalfi, the fishermen at a neighbouring village brought ashore a large 
turtle in their nets . They carried it to the piazza and put it in the foun- 
tain. The fishermen and their wives gathered round it. No one had seen 
such a large turtle before. Soon, it began to weep . Great tears ran down 
its face, and it sobbed like a child. The fisherwomen began to cry too. 
No one knew what to do to help it. The idea of putting it back in 
the sea never occurred to them. And so, with most of the inhabitants 
weeping over it, and crying bitterly itself, the turtle died. 

60 



INTRODUCTION 

history of the English speaking peoples and we will delay upon 
it, if only for a few moments. 

The village of Salon, some fifteen miles from Boston, 
Massachusetts, had been founded as early as 1626. The 
incidental detail that emerges from the printed accounts shows 
life in Massachusetts, during the last years of the seventeenth 
century, as being in no way distinguished from that of the most 
typical Puritan settlements in England, only with the differ- 
ence that, if anything, a deeper degree of strictness could be 
enforced, here, in the New World, where the Puritans had 
their liberty and could live as they willed. The date of the 
persecution of the witches at Salem is 1692, some seventy 
years after the settlement had been founded. There were, by 
then, persons old enough to have the designation of crony or 
warlock attached to them. Old women are called Goody 
Wildes, or Osborne, or whatever name it may have been; 
while the devil, whether or not it really was, as they alleged, 
the Rev. George Burroughs, who was afterwards executed, 
appeared as the tall black man of convention with the Jiigh- 
crowned hat. 1 Abigail or Deliverance Hobbs are names typical 
of this far off country place; while there is, unfortunately, not 
space here to more than mention Increase or Cotton Mather, 
the former being Acting-President and, later. Rector of 
Harvard University. That fact seems to make a curious con- 
nection between fiction and reality, so remote and distant do 
the early Puritans seem to be, and so much the more removed 
are they from the ordinary conception of them when it is 
realized that the Mathers were implicit believers, they were, in 
fact, prime instigators of the witch trials. Such, we might say, 
is the medieval ancestry of the great American University. 
And this descent may be thought to bring it nearer to the true 
humanities than had it been founded in an age of pure reason. 
The hysterical seizures, in court, of those implicated in the 
Salem trials, their ‘grievous torments and tortures’, their 
‘hideous clamours and screechings’, the fact that when they 
cried out the print of teeth would be seen on the flesh of the 
complainers, all this is so near to the children in the case of 

1 It seems curious and improbable that the Rev. George Burroughs 
was a graduate of Harvard University. 

61 



INTRODUCTION 

Dr. F.liakim Phelps, and also to the feats of Eleanore Zugun. 
These are Poltergeist symptoms, to be at once recognized as 
such. 

The psychic disturbances which had their culmination at 
Salem in 1692 had been preceded by other hysterical happen- 
ings in New England, of which the account is to be read in 
Remarkable Providences Illustrative of the Earlier Days of 
American Colonisation, by Increase Mather, a book which has 
an odd title if we consider that the date of its publication was 
1684. His son. Cotton Mather, quotes other examples in 
Magnalia Christi Americana, or an Ecclesiastical History of New 
England, published in 1702. From these two books we resume 
the following. The first of these books contains a long and 
involved account of hauntings in the house of William Morse, 
in Newberry, in 1679. The house and farm buildings were the 
centre of extraordinary disturbances, beginning with ‘a noise 
upon the roof of the house, as if sticks and stones had been 
thrown against it with great violence’. After this preliminary, 
the poltergeist began its tricks in full blast. Chairs, nails, 
distaffs, weather boards, were hurled about, and a state of 
pandemonium ensued that might remind those of our readers 
who were lucky enough to see it of that well-known music 
hall turn, ‘Fun in a Bakehouse’, performed by the Boganny 
Troupe. The son, a small boy, became soon ‘the principal 
sufferer in these afflictions’. ‘On the 18 December, he sitting 
by his grandfather, was hurried into great motions, and the 
man thereupon took him, and made him stand between his 
legs; but the chair danced up and down, and had like to have 
cast both man and boy into the fire; and the child was after- 
wards flung about in such a manner, as that they feared that 
his brains would have been beaten out. . . . The lad was soon 
put to bed, and they presently heard an huge noise, and de- 
manded what was the matter? and he answered, that his bed- 
stead leaped up and down; and they went up, and at first found 
all quiet, but before they had been there long, they saw the 
board by his bed trembling by him, and the bed-clothes flyin g 
off him; the latter they laid on immediately, but they were no 
sooner on than off; so they took him out of his bed for quiet- 
ness.’ 


62 



INTRODUCTION 

The boy seems, after this, to have developed all the symp- 
toms of acute hysteria. He was pinched and beaten; his tongue 
hung out of his mouth; he was thrown into the fire; he made, 
for a long time together, a noise like a dog, and like a hen with 
her chickens, and could not speak rationally. ‘Particularly, on 
December 26, he barked like a dog, and cluck’t like a hen.’ 
They then removed him to a neighbour’s house; and it is 
significant that ‘the boy was growing antick as he was on the 
journey, but before the end of it he made a grievous hollowing; 
and when he lighted, he threw a great stone at a maid in the 
house, and fell on eating of ashes ... on the 19th of January, 
in the morning, he swooned, and coming to himself, he roared 
terribly, and did eat ashes, sticks, rug-yam.’ It is also an 
important point that the pious Increase Mather mentions the 
Drummer of Tedworth in connection with this case at New- 
berry; for a chain of circumstantial evidence convinces us that, 
just as the Drummer of Tedworth was known to Increase 
Mather and, perhaps, to William Morse, so both of these 
cases and their sum total, together, were well known to the 
Wesley household at Epworth Rectory; that haunting, in its 
turn, was well known, and commented upon, by Mr. Procter 
at Willington Mill; and the Epworth haunting, again, was 
known to Mr. Irving of Cashen’s Gap, the owner of the 
notorious ‘talking mongoose’. 1 

The other New England Poltergeist, described in Remark- 
able Providences , by Increase Mather, concerns a person named 
Nicholas Desborough, of Hartford, Connecticut. This refers 
to the year 1682. The said person, we read: ‘was strangely 
molested by stones, pieces of earth, and cobs of Indian com 
falling upon and about him, which sometimes came in through 
the door, sometimes through the window, sometimes down the 
chimney; at other times they seemed to fall from the floor of 
the chamber, which yet was very close; sometimes he met them 
in his shop, the yard, the barn, and in the field at work. . . . 
There was no great violence in the motion, though several 
persons of the family, and others also, were struck with the 

1 We are to presume that all of these cases, those in New England 
more especially, as reported by Increase and Cotton Mather, will 
have been known to the Rev. Eliakim Phelps. 

63 



INTRODUCTION 

things that were thrown by an invisible hand, yet they were not 
hurt thereby. . . .’ Increase Mather continues with another 
case, at Portsmouth, in New England. On June n, 1682, 
‘being the Lord’s Day, at night showers of stones were thrown 
both against the sides and roof of the house of George Walton: 
some of the people went abroad, found the gate at some dis- 
tance from the house wrung off the hinges, and stones came 
thick about them, sometimes falling down by them, sometimes 
touching them without any hurt done to them, though they 
seemed to come with great force, yet did no more but softly 
touch them; stones flying about die room, the doors being 
shut; the glass windows shattered to pieces by stones that 
seemed to come, not from without, but from within, the lead 
of the glass casements, windowbars, et cetera, being driven 
forcibly outwards, and so standing bent. While the secretary 
was walking in the room, a great hammer came brushing along 
against the chamber floor that was over his head and fell down 
by him. A candlestick beaten off the table. They took up nine 
of the stones, and laid them on the table, some of them being 
as hot as if they came out of the fire; but some of those mark’t 
stones were found flying about again, in this maimer about 
four hours’ space that night.’ The predominant interest in 
this narrative is the mention of some of the stones being warm. 
This occurs, too, as we shall see presendy, in the case of Mr. 

• G , in Sumatra. And it is to be observed that there is 

a marked similarity in language between ‘while the secretary 
was walking in the room, a great hammer came brushing along 
the chamber floor that was over his head’ and the picturesque 
phrase that we shall find in the haunting of Epworth Rectory, 
as retailed by the Rev. Samuel Wesley: ‘My man who lay in 
the garret heard someone come slaring through the garret to 
his chamber, rattling by his side, as if against his shoes, though 
he had none there.’ In other words, we may feel certain in 
our minds that the works of Increase and Cotton Mather 
were known and read by the Rev. Samuel Wesley and his 
family, a thing which is not at all improbable in those Puritan 
circles. 

Before we leave these New England cases, it is necessary to 
relate, for the sake of those persons who love picturesque 

64 



INTRODUCTION 

detail, that the Rev. Montague Summers in his able and 
learned resumption of these cases , 1 quotes to us the evidence 
concerning Bridget Bishop, who was executed as one of the 
most notorious of the Salem Witches, that she was the mistress 
of a hostelry, which stood on the high road between Salem and 
Beverley, and that she was wont to deck her person in ‘a black 
cap and a black hat, and a red paragon bodice, bordered and 
looped with different colours’, which gave much offence to 
the Genevan housewives who were clad in ‘cinder grey or sub- 
fuse brown’. Her hostelry even contained a shovel board for 
the entertainment of passing guests. We are given, in this, the 
true picture of New England during the late seventeenth 
century, with its figures of Quaker, of Puritan, of Calvinistic 
cut; and we are to think of the new built streets filled with 
these variously distinguished sects of the Reformed Religion. 
Evidence against Bridget Bishop, who must have been in many 
ways the lightening of this sombre and dour scene, tells us that 
‘two men, John Bly and William Bly, being employed by her 
to take down the Cellar wall of the old house wherein she 
formerly lived, they did in holes of the said old Wall, find 
several Poppets, made up of rags and Hogs-bristles, with 
headless Pins in them, the Points being outward; whereof she 
could give no account unto the Court, that was reasonable or 
tolerable’. 

As we have implied before, there is never far to look to find 
the Poltergeist. A case occurred so near home as to be upon 
a farm belonging to my brother, in Derbyshire, not further, 
indeed, than a mile or a mile and a half from our home. The 
hauntings were some forty years ago, but I have been told of 
them all my life. The scene, we can say this, had a name as 
good as Malking Tower. It was a lonely farm, which has to be 
reached across die fields and does not lie upon any road. The 
name of it is Toadpool Farm. And this name, already sinister 
enough, is, perhaps, bettered if the first syllable, as has been 
suggested, is the Saxon ‘tod’ or death, in fact, a suicide pool, 
or a pool in which someone was drowned. All round the farm, 

1 Cf. The Geography of Witchcraft by Montague Summers, Lon- 
don, 1927, pp. 207-313. 

e 65 


s.p. 



INTRODUCTION 

in the fields, there are the mysterious mushroom rings. It is, 
or was, enchanted ground, but with an evil meaning. The 
hauntings took place during two successive tenancies; the 
earlier of the tenant farmers being dead, long since, and his 
successor still alive, but in an asylum. The usual stone-throw- 
ing took place; showers of pebbles fell from the roof, or 
rattled against the windows. There were tappings and rap- 
pings. And, for greater mystery, in the time of both tenants, 
the cart-horses in the stables were found in the morning ready 
harnessed, or ready saddled. The odd point in this story is the 
continuance of the hauntings under two successive tenants. 
The same children, therefore, or maidservants, cannot have 
been in the house. But, unfortunately, it was forty years ago 
and it is too late, now, to discover further details. The back- 
ground is a little similar to that of Willington Mill — when we 
come to that— in the sense that it is rural or bucolic, but with 
railway lines and coal mines near by. The great slag heaps, or 
clinker, as it is known locally, raise their artificial hills in every 
direction, covered, in summer, with the pink flowering flax. 
The great Staveley Ironworks are in the distance. Near by is 
Foxton Wood, with a dam one hundred feet deep, a favourite 
place for suicides, and, beyond the wood, a fine Jacobean 
manor house, now become a farmhouse, but once the dower 
house of Lady Frescheville, the wife of the Cavalier. This 
manor house, which, too, in its remoteness should be haunted, 
has the name of Hagge Hall. Toadpool Farm and Hagge 
Hall, what better or more appropriate names could there 
be! 

Our miscellany of the Poltergeist takes us from Toadpool 
Farm to what would seem to be an ideal setting, Iceland, a 
hundred and fifty years ago. The loneliness, the inbreeding, 
the long winters, the old Norse legends, the absolute lack of 
recreation, such are congenial surroundings for this entertain- 
ment. It is the world of Bishop Pontoppidan, the Norwegian 
prelate who wrote of the sea-serpent. Two stories of what was 
evidently a Poltergeist are to be found in a book of Icelandic 
folk-lore by John Amason, of which an English translation 
was published in the ’sixties. The first of them, which dates 
from as far back as 1750, is mentioned in letters written from 

66 



INTRODUCTION 

Sheriff Hans Wium to Bishop Haldoor Brynjolfsson. It was 
called the devil of Hjalta-Stad; and the Sheriff describes 
approaching the haunted farmstead and hearing the ‘iron 
voice’ speaking. This was accompanied by any amount of 
knocking and rapping, and by the displacement of furniture 
and of heavy wooden doors. It would seem that the ‘iron voice 5 
was really ventriloquism and that a young man, who was ever 
afterwards given a nickname suggestin g that he was the culprit, 
must be held responsible. The story is, though, no less mys- 
terious for that. The second case, in the house of a minis ter at 
Garpsdal, is less convincing and was spoilt by visible phantoms, 
who are seldom interesting in these stories and mark, nearly 
always, the deterioration of the theme. None the less, these 
Icelandic tales must be mentioned in any collection of this 
sort, if only because every circumstance was so appropriate to 
their existence. 

There is another sort of haunting which we have not men- 
tioned, consisting in the inexplicable ringing of bells. There is 
a curious and rare old book upon this subject, with the name of 
Beatings Bells , the author being Major Edward Moore, F.R.S., 
1841. Bells had been rung in his home at Great Bealings, in 
Suffolk, without any possible explanation, for fifty-three days. 
His pamphlet does not seem to suggest any human being in his 
household as possible agency for these forces, |but it is evident 
that his suspicions were aroused. He has collected no fewer 
than twenty other instances of this inexplicable bell-ringing. 
Many other examples could be quoted, of which the most 
interesting is the case reported in the Atlantic Monthly for 
1868. This took place in the house of Mr. H. A. Willis at 
Boston, Massachusetts, and was due to Mary Carrick, an Irish 
girl of eighteen, who had but just arrived in the U.S.A. and 
had come to the house as a servant. The bells, as at Great 
Bealings, rang every half-hour throughout the day and even- 
ing, when totally disconnected. Sometimes the whole peal 
would ring, always excepting one bell. At other times, it 
was two or three particular bells; but, always, with no pos- 
sibility of contact. But, besides this, there were other Pol- 
tergeist phenomena; the usual breaking of crockery, clothes 
strewn and thrown about, and the jumping of a stone slab, 

67 



INTRODUCTION 

weighing forty-eight pounds, into the air without any possible 
reason. 1 

For the sake of convenience we class with this the extra- 
ordinary story known as the T. B. Clarke case, of which the 
account may be found in the Proceedings of the American 
Society for Psychical Research , Volume VII. The date of these 
happenings is 1874. The narrative takes the form, almost, of 
a judicial examination. It is a brave attempt to sift die evidence 
and arrive at the truth, but the continuity of the story suffers, 
inevitably, in the process, so that it is even difficult to be cer- 
tain of what did occur. It is a very odd story. The person on 
whom suspicion rested was Mr. T. B. Clarke himself. There 
would seem to be suggestions, or inferences, that he was not 
entirely to be trusted. On the other hand, there was a Chinese 
cook in the house, who is scarcely mentioned in the evidence, 
but to whom attention might just as well have been directed. 
We shall see that, at a critical moment, our own suspicions 
would have fallen upon him. It is not easy to be certain of what 
so many persons were doing in that small house, but its occu- 
pants included a young Englishman who gave reliable evi- 
dence; and it is to be remarked that all concerned were edu- 
cated persons. The most startling of the phenomena were the 
extraordinary movements of a heavy chair, which, according 
to the Englishman, and to others in the case, was of a sudden 
spun round with a wild velocity, just as though some super- 
human force were spinning it, only to come to an equally sud- 
den and abrupt end to its gyrations. It had stopped in the 
flicker of a second and was standing squarely on its four legs, 
as though nothing strange had happened to it the moment be- 
fore. The Englishman was himself levitated, or slightly lifted 
in this chair, and describes the curious sensation (which we 
should compare with the evidence of the boy Randall, in the 
Enniscorthy case, p. 336). The chair seems, too, to have come 
round comers and spun wildly round the room, but without 
hitting anything. More phenomena quickly developed. Among 
much else, a heavy cupboard on the landing would descend the 

1 This case is also reported in this present book in the article on 
Poltergeists by Sir William Barrett, quoted from Proceedings of the 
Society for Psychical Research, Vol. XXV. Cf. page 345 . 

68 



INTRODUCTION 

stairs, and not content with, its trajectory down one flight of 
steps, would take the comer and negotiate the rest of the 
descent. All the occupants of the house were, by now, in a 
state of nervous alarm (except the Chinese boy, of whose 
reactions we are not informed. All that we know is that when 
asked his opinion of Mr. Clarke, after the phenomena had 
ceased, he said ‘Always the samee foxee’, implying no great 
love for his master. This was twisted into partial evidence, so 
to speak, against the trustworthiness of Mr. Clarke, but it 
reflects, also, upon the Chinaman). At the height of this weird 
performance, when all the persons concerned were in one 
room together, or grouped upon the landing, a loud and 
piercing scream was heard, coming from no ascertainable 
direction, but near at hand. 1 It is described in all the evidence 
as the voice of a woman. The rumour of these hauntings had 
drawn attention to the house, and it is admitted that the small 
boys of the neighbourhood had been giving catcalls and 
whistling outside, earlier in the evening. It was, by now, how- 
ever, two o’clock in the mornin g , not an hour at which small 
boys would be outside in the street. My own conviction, for 
what it is worth, is that this terrible scream came from the 
Chinese cook. It was described as a woman’s shriek, and the 
Chinese have always shrill voices. Perhaps it may have been 
the Chinese boy in a nightmare; but it is so much more likely 
that it was the deliberate act of someone who was enjoying the 
disturbances. We would say, then, that this Chinese boy was 
the Poltergeist in the case. But it is an interesting and enthral- 
ling story to read, the distribution of the characters and the 
restriction of setting, together with the form of inquiry and 
answer in which it is printed, giving to it the illusion of a play. 

Another odd story, but we are now approaching the end of 
our miscellany, concerns a hauhted railway telegraph tower, 
at Dale, Georgia, upon a railway on the m ai n line of the 
Atlantic Coast railroad. The occurrences took place in 1911. 2 
A telegraph tower would seem an improbable environment. 
Three young men were workin g in it, a concatenation which 

1 This may have been an auditory hallucination, cf. page 75 . 

a This case, too, is quoted in this present book from Sir William 
Barrett’s article. Cf. page 353. 


69 



INTRODUCTION 

a little suggests the two and, at one tune, three young men who 
shared the haunted bedroom at Enniscorthy. Again, objects 
were moved about; doors would not open, or would not stay 
closed; and when all had fled in terror, a large chair came in 
pursuit of them and was hurled out through a window. This 
case has, to some small extent, an echo of the case of Councillor 
Hahn (see p. 307). It would seem, that is to say, to need the 
unconscious collaboration of two or more individuals. 

There is another strange episode, the scene of which was a 
carpenter’s shop at Swanland, near Hull, in 1849. The account 
of this is to be found in the Proceedings of the Society for 
Psychical Research , Volume VII. Mr. Myers, the famous 
authority on Spiritualism, made a close ex amin ation of one of 
the eyewitnesses, Mr. Bristow, in 1891. This was, it will be 
noted,'after a lapse of forty-two years. Three workmen, in the 
carpenter’s shop, ‘were pelted with bits of wood, now moving 
in a straight line and striking a door, noiselessly as a feather, 
and again as though borne along on gently heaving waves’. 
This phrase of an eyewitness mi g ht apply to the movements of 
objects in the house of Mr. Mompesson, or in the Ringcroft 
case in Galloway. It is the common, or distinctive, feature of 
the Poltergeist at play. Mr. Bristow, after those forty years, 
still regarded the occurrence as a magical or inexplicable 
happening. 

This is Mr. Bristow’s story, taken from Volume VII of the 
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. ‘On the 
morning when the phenomena took place I was working at 
the bench next the wall, where I could see the movements of 
my two companions and watch the door. Suddenly one of 
them turned round and called out: “You had better keep those 
blocks of wood and stick to work, mates!” We asked him to 
explain, and he said: “You know quite well what I mean; one 
of you hit me with this piece of wood”, and he showed us a 
piece of wood about an inch square. We both protested that 
we had not thrown it; and I for one was quite certain my other 
companion had never stopped working. The incident was 
being forgotten, when, some minutes afterwards, the other 
companion turned round like the first, and shouted at me: 
"It is you, this time, who threw this piece of wood at me!” 

70 



INTRODUCTION 

and he showed me a piece the size of a matchbox. There were 
two of them accusing me, now, and my denials counted for 
nothing, so that I laughed and added: “Since I did not do it, 
I suppose that if someone was aiming at you it is now my 
turn.” I had hardly said this when a piece hit me on the hip. 
I called out: “I am touched. There is a mystery somewhere; 
let us see what happens.” 

‘We searched inside and out, but could discover no thing . 
This strange and embarrassing occurrence gave us much to 
talk about, but in the end we set to work ag ain. 

‘I had hardly started when some Venetian blinds, held 
above by beams let into the wall, started shaking with such a 
clatter that it seemed as if they must be broken to bits. We 
thought at once, “Somebody is up there.” I seized a ladder, 
rushed up and craned my neck, but to find that the blinds 
were immovable and covered with a layer of dust and cob- 
webs. As I descended and found myself with my head on a 
level with the beams, I saw a small piece of wood, two fingers 
thick, hop forward on a plank, and with a final bound of two 
feet pass close to my ear. Dumfounded, I jumped to earth, 
and then I said: “This is nothing to laugh at. There is some- 
thing supernatural. What do you say?” One of my com- 
panions agreed with me, the other still maintained that some- 
body was making fun of us. During this little dispute a bit of 
wood from the entrance end of the workshop flew and hit him 
on his hat. I shall never forget the sheepish look on his face. 

‘From time to time a piece of wood, just cut, and fallen upon 
the floor, jumped up on the benches and started a dance amidst 
the tools. And it is remarkable that in spite of innumerable 
attempts, we could never catch a piece in movement, for it 
cleverly eluded all our stratagems. They seemed animated and 
intelligent. 

‘I remember a piece which jumped from the bench on to 
an easel standing three yards away, whence it bounded on to 
another piece of furniture, then into a comer of the shop, 
where it stopped. Another traversed the shop like an arrow at 
the level of three feet above the ground. 

‘Immediately afterwards a piece took a flight with a wavy 
motion. Another went in a slanting line and then alighted 

7i 



INTRODUCTION 

quickly at my feet. While the chief of the works, Mr. Clarke, 
was explaining the details of a drawing, and we were both 
holding our fingers out in such a way that between our fingers 
there was a distance of rather less than an inch, a pointed piece 
of wood passed between our two fingers and hit the table. 

‘This state of thing s continued with more or less intensity 
during six weeks, and always in broad daylight. Sometimes 
there was comparative quiet for a day or two, during which 
one or two manifestations occurred, but then followed days 
of extraordinary activity, as if they wanted to make up for the 
time lost. In one of these periods, while a workman was 
repairing a Venetian shutter on the bench next to mine, I saw 
a piece of wood about six inches square and one inch thick 
rise up and describe three-quarters of a large circle in the air 
and then hit the shutter with some force just at the spot at 
which the man was working. It was the largest piece of wood 
which I have seen in the air. Most of them were no larger than 
an ordinary box of matches, though they were of various 
shapes, the last flying piece that I saw was of oak and about 
i\ inches square and i inch thick. It fell on me from the 
far comer of the ceiling, and described in its course a screw 
line like a spiral staircase of about 20 inches diameter. It is 
necessary to add that all these objects, without exception, 
came from the interior of the shop, and that not one came in 
by the door. 

‘One of the strangest peculiarities of the manifestations con- 
sisted in this, that the pieces of wood cut by us and fallen on 
the ground worked their way into the comers of the shop, 
from where they raised themselves to the ceiling in some 
mysterious and invisible manner. None of the workmen, none 
of the visitors, who flocked here in great numbers during the 
six weeks of these manifestations, ever saw a single piece in the 
act of rising. And yet the pieces of wood, in spite of our vigil- 
ance, quickly found their way up in order to fell on us where 
nothing existed a moment before. By degrees we got used to 
the thing, and the movements of the pieces of wood, which 
seemed to be alive and some cases even intelligent, no longer 
surprised us and hardly attracted our attention 

‘Except in some special cases, the projectiles fell and hit 

72 



INTRODUCTION 

without any noise, although they came at such a speed that in 
normal conditions they would have produced a fairly loud 
clatter. Nobody ever saw a missile at the time it started. One 
would have said they could not be perceived until they had 
travelled at least six inches from their startin g point. . . . The 
missiles only moved when nobody was looking and when they 
were least expected. Now and again one of us would watch a 
piece of wood closely for a good number of minutes and the 
piece would not budge; but if the observer stopped looking at 
it, the same piece would jump at us. . . . Sometimes the direc- 
tion taken by the projectiles was a straight line, but more often 
it was undulating, rotatory, spiral, serpentine, or jerky.’ 

In his book. Haunted Houses, M. C amill e Flammarion tells 
two more stories, the points of which must be resumed by us 
for this introduction. The first of them is a case of stone- 
throwing at Marcinelle, in Belgium, in 19x3. Immense quan- 
tities of small stones, or pebbles, were hurled with great force 
through the windows of a detached house, which had no 
buildings near to it. It was noted that the stones, which all 
came from the same direction, perforated the window-pane 
with the greatest regularity, never erring in their aim, and 
piercing, but not shattering, the glass. ‘I have seen’, an eye- 
witness said, ‘a stone arriving in the middle of a large window- 
pane, and then came others in a spiral round the first point of 
impact, so that the whole of the glass was broken up methodi- 
cally. I even saw, in another window, a projectile caught in the 
fragments of glass of the first hole it made, and subsequently 
ejected by another passing through the same point.’ This case 
was never given a satisfactory explanation. 1 It is one of the 
most curious of all instances of stone-throwing; but no less 
remarkable (we will return to M. Fl amm arion in a moment) 
was the story reported in the Giomale di Sicilia for June 7, 
1910. According to this, in the first week of that month a 
certain Signor Paolo Palmisano ‘saw stones falling slowly 
without doing any damage, and says that one of them, near 
the place where the young deaf and dumb daughter of a 

1 Needless to say, there was a servant girl, fifteen years old, in the 
house, and the phenomena were connected with her. They would only 
take place in her presence, and ceased with her absence. 

73 



INTRODUCTION 

peasant was sitting, detached itself from the wall, and after 
describing a slow semi-circle in the air, buried itself in the 
wall of another house’. 

But we return to M. Flammarion, for his other story is of 
contingency to much that we have said. It is the account of a 
house at Fives, near Lille, in 1865. Here, once more, no 
explanation was ever forthco ming , though the police were 
called in to watch the house. A curious figure was traced on the 
bed of one of the rooms, which was formed with hats. At other 
times, large figures of eight were traced out with stockings and 
socks; and a dozen steps were covered with overcoats and sur- 
mounted by a hat. Upon the bed, a similar design was made 
with a rolled up, hooded cloak and a game basket. This sounds 
like the ghost in the home of Dr. Eliakim Phelps at work. It 
is, indeed, the only parallel that we can find to those figures 
and manikins (compare p. 46); but, at Fives, there was 
not the same practised hand. We may be positive that some 
young girl in the house will have been directly, or indirectly, 
responsible! 

And, finally, to end our collection, there is the story of the 
house of M. Shchapoff. We find this in Andrew Lang’s 
Dream and Ghosts, and in the Proceedings of the Society for 
Psychical Research, Volume XII. M. Shchapoff was a Russian 
squire living near Orenburg, in 1870. He had a wife, twenty 
years old, and a baby daughter. He had been away from home 
upon a journey and came back to find the most extraordinary 
disturbances in progress. It is hardly necessary for us, after so 
many examples, to state their nature, but they included certain 
unusual features. Objects and pieces of crockery flew from, or 
towards, her, instead of pursuing an aimless trajectory. There 
was another contradiction, in the sense that a heavy object 
would strike like a straw or a feather, while things of the 
lightest weight struck like strokes of a hammer. Fires broke 
out, and Mme Shchapoff was badly burned. Most pec uliar of 
all, while she was lying in bed, where, as we mi ght have ex- 
pected, she was especially tormented, a little pink hand was 
seen to come up from the floor and pull away her counterpane. 
This is the ‘little hand’, the ‘little white hand and arm pressing 
up your arm, and presently vanishing’, seen more than two 

74 



INTRODUCTION 

hundred and fifty years ago at Ringcroft, in Galloway. 1 The 
phenomena, which were of a terrific nature, and which cannot 
but be helped for us by their setting in provincial Russia, near 
to us ixf time but as remote as seventeenth-century Scotland, 
continued for many months, but seem to have come to an end 
after the occasion upon which Mme Shchapoff had been so 
badly burned. They then ceased, and we are told that she died 
in childbed in 1878. But the prime interest of this case is that 
this is the only instance known to us in which the woman 
medium was a mother. In all other cases they are at the age of 
puberty, delayed or premature. This is, therefore, an excep- 
tional story in that respect, just as it is among the most 
dramatic and extraordinary of the whole series. And it can 
bring us to the examination of those Poltergeists of which the 
cases are printed in full at the end of this volume. 2 

1 Phantom hands appeared also in a case quoted by M. Flam- 
marion in his book Haunted Houses , the scene being a school at La 
Cape, Porte-Sainte-Marie, in France. This particular haunting con- 
tinued for no less than sixteen years. ‘The little white hand, and an 
arm from the elbow down,’ appear, also, in the Rerrick case, of 1695, 
as reported by the Rev. Alexander Telfair. 

1 Rappings, given out by the ‘spirit* in this case, laid the blame for 
the disturbances on a peasant belonging to a neighbouring miller, 
with whom M. Shchapoff had a dispute about a mill-pond. There are, 
therefore, local wizards, or countrymen, in this case, as with the 
Drummer of Tedworth, at Cideville, with Angelique Cottin, and at 
Epworth Rectory. 



75 





EXAMINATION 


It can be the same house, or any house, but in a lonely place. 
And loneliness does not mean a lack of living beings. For, 
where nothing human exists, there could not be the incidents 
that we are about to relate. They are human, unmistakably 
human, in the form of their manifestations; though this does 
not diminish the mystery. For that, indeed, is the mysterious 
problem. These things are earthbound: they are of the earth: 
nothing out of the heavens prompts them in their tortuous 
ways. 

It would begin with a waiting, or an apprehension. In this 
you are an unwilling partner, for it plays with you. And, then, 
perhaps, the rapping will begin. But this is its primal, or 
conspicuous presence. It is a deaf and dumb language, no more 
than that. It is the red anchorite, above you in his study, and 
treading on the boards. Or a knocking in the wainscoting. I 
hope that anyone who reads this will think, at once, of the red 
anchorite in his attic. For this might be in his red brick house. 
But it is any house; or not a house at all. The canal, with its 
strewing of dead leaves, runs below the windows. Or it is an 
hotel bedroom; or a cabin on board ship. Or the empty, bare 
plough land; or a green field, in the dead of night, when you 
can hear the whirring of the world. 

Now which of these alternatives is to be preferred to all the 
others? All are upon the earth, and earthbound. They may be 
far from the starlight, but they cannot get away from man. 
You can be more lonely in one room in a red brick town than 
in the sandy desert, or in the mangrove swamp. But it is the 
lonely, looking for company, who break down their prison bars 
and can transcend reality. We carry all the gods of the world 
in our bellies, made in our own image. They are the mists or 
vapourings of our sub-pyschic selves, inchoate assemblances 

77 



EXAMINATION 


as disparate and indescribable as some great minster or abbey 
of the misty north. This Gothic, which frightens or appals, 
which may stand blackened in some manufacturing town, has 
become a dead or dying monster. Its very fabric stains the 
fingers with smoke and soot. It is no longer like the work of 
men’s hands; or, at most, it is the slag heap, the clinker of the 
mines, molten, one moment, when the sun sets or rises, and, 
afterwards, a putrefaction, a rotting carcass, lifting and falling 
on the sea of fog. Its earthy sublimity, its soil of slime, where 
you could skim the waters, puckering their skum of filth, 
banking the grimy bubbles, such is this river Styx, flowing by 
the gasworks and beside the tramlines. This is die soul of the 
town and is, as well, its refuse and its night soil. 

This is lie strata from which such emanations rise. They 
come from the underworld, from caverns or cesspools covered 
up or hidden. These things creep underground; they are blind 
like the mole, sightless and pale from their imprisonment, 
with long rodent fingers, cold, and as a dead man’s hand. Yet, 
all these monsters live within ourselves. Faiths and religions 
fall out of the skies and keep, grave deep, in shallows of the 
sands. They were never more than the motes and chains that 
float before the eyes. The true underworld, the miasma of the 
mind and soul, is the heaven or hell where nothing ever dies. 
More shades walk here than all the buried dead. Every reli- 
gion, and all superstition, serve one another and are sealed in 
compact. But, at this moment, our meeting is with the lesser 
shades. Noble lives, passed in true religion, do not concern us 
here. It is the scullions, or scavengers, the stragglers and camp 
followers, those who strip dead bodies, who have come upon 
the earth. They have grown up behind us, in our footsteps. 
They gather, like a choking weed, and no care can keep them 
down. 

All fanaticism, all magic formula, are but a part, small 
beyond infinity, of the subterranean world. Wherever there is 
mystery we have made excuses, and, since all is mysterious, the 
underworld is all legend and no facts. But, as well, there is a 
meaning. The litde details have a theme, or pattern. The 
abracadabra spells into real words. They are in memory of 
something and have been worn into their jargon. And those 

78 



EXAMINATION 

who used them have, on purpose, made it worse. Such are the 
hands that make a haunted place more frightening. This is the 
renegade soul, armed against itself. And the underworld in 
which we find ourselves is a pit of treachery and lying. 
Nothing is truthful in this hell, this place of waiting. All are 
armed against each other; or, in desperate need, have banded 
for a purpose and will be enemies, once more, when they have 
gained their ends. 

And now it can begin. For there are so many ways and such 
a multiplicity of means. It can start, for this has happened, 
with a little white hand and arm pressing up your arm; and 
presently it vanishes. There was never anything seen, except 
that hand you saw. Such are the words in this account of it. 
After this, stone-throwing began. It went on all over the 
house; but it could not be discovered whence the stones came. 
And then, at several times, was seen a young boy about the 
age of fourteen years, with grey clothes and a bonnet on his 
head, who presently disappeared; and, in the evening, a person 
as it were a young man, red-faced, with yellow hair looking in 
at the window. In fact, it was the Poltergeist. 1 

The very word has a wild ring in it, which fits its action. The 
narrator goes on: ‘Then I came out with a resolution to leave 
the house, and as I was standing speaking to some men at the 
bam end, I saw two little stones drop down on the croft at a 
little distance from me, and then, immediately, some came 
ciying out of the house that it was become as ill as ever within; 
whereupon I went into the house again, and as I was at prayer, 
it threw several stones at me, but they did no hurt. Later, it 
began as before, and threw more frequently greater stones 
whose strokes were sorer where they hit. Besides the throwing 
of stones there was beating with staves, gripping of people 
by the hair, dragging of them up and down the house by their 
clothes. The bar of the door would move through the house as 
if someone were carrying it, while it was plain that no one was 
doing so. While prayers were being offered, it whistled, 
groaned, and cried “Bo, bo” and “kick, cuck”! It continued 
throwing stones, whisling and whisting, with all its former 
words. When it hit any person and said, “Take you that till 
1 The Poltergeist of Ringcroft, in Galloway, in 1695. 

79 



Examination 

you get more,” that person was sure, immediately, of another 
blow; but, when it said, “Take you that,” the person got no 
more for a while.’ 

And then, a few days later, it stopped and never came again. 
The person who was medium must have gone away from this 
place or it is more likely that, for no reason, and without the 
knowledge of its earthly instrument, who, in all probability, 
was unaware, when in a normal state, of his or her black 
powers, this faculty or magical endowment had left the body in 
which it dwelt. No reason can ever be given for this: either for 
its presence, or for its discontinuance. It enters into a body, 
inhabits it, and leaves it. While it dwells there it is master of 
the soul, just as though a surrender or a deed of purchase had 
taken place. Superstition was not mistaken when it told of a 
bargain with the devil, for, in such a case, evil is predominant. 
Its instrument has mischievous or wicked purposes. It is far- 
fetched in malign intention, and deals in trickery and subter- 
fuge. No trouble is too great for it to gain its ends, which are 
always of terror. It will practise deceits worthy of a master 
conjurer in their ingenuity. Sleight of hand, and every kind of 
cunning, are its tools. And the medium is nearly always a 
child, or adolescent, as though this were the age at which those 
powers are rampant. It is, more especially, the time of puberty, 
when the physical body and the soul are troubled, as if the 
suspense of this transition from childhood into normality, this 
chrysalis or metamorphosis condition, made of it a temporary 
habitation till the finished form emerged. This could be 
delayed, or kept in suspension, while the psychic trance con- 
tinued. Such must be the explanation, but it gives no reason, 
nor tells the cause, nor cure. 

In one of the most famous cases upon record, that of Ep- 
worth Rectory, in Lincolnshire, which was the home of the 
Wesley family, the testimony is such as exactly to support 
these contentions. An account can be found in the words of 
John Wesley himself, who, if somewhat credulous, could cer- 
tainly be depended upon to be truthftd. He was not present 
at the time of the hauntings, a circumstance which it is natural 
to deplore, hut he took down the depositions of his father and 
mother, and of his numerous family of brothers and sisters. 

80 



EXAMINATION 

The youngest of these, it is important to note, were little chil- 
dren. There are all the usual concomitants of such cases, with, 
as well, some exceptional and peculiar features. The servants 
and the farm hands were the first to be troubled. Strange 
blockings and rappings were heard, and upon one occasion an 
a nim al like a hare bounded at wildest speed out of the kitchen. 
Nothing improbable about this, in itself, but this detail has a 
contributory importance. As for the rappings and knockings, 
they manifested themselves with an exceptional strength when 
the family were at their prayers. They took on certain regular 
patterns, as of a hand beating out a tune. If anyone knocked 
back, one, two, three, they would reply in exact copy. They 
would learn instantly, and repeat, die most complicated 
measures of this sort, as though to give tangible proof that they 
were present and looking on . 1 The raps would come from the 
wainscoting, or from a chair, or table. But, in particular, they 
took exception, as it were, and were dete rmin ed to interrupt or 
divert attention, whenever old Mr. Wesley read out the prayer 
for the King. And then it was remembered that, some years 
before, Mrs. Wesley, who, we may be certain, was then, as 
always, with one of her innumerable children upon the way, 
and, perhaps, in an unusually nervous condition owing to this, 
had expressed an objection to this prayer because of her 
Jacobite sympathies. To her husband’s intense sorrow she 
refused to associate herself in the prayer and it became, for 
some years, the cause of estrangement between them. The 
spirit, then, was aware of this former complication in their 
lives. It was petty minded and took its delight in raking up 
this forgotten quarrel. 

The other escapades of the Poltergeist seemed to concern 
themselves with frightening the children when they were in 
their beds. This took the form of violently heaving underneath 
their mattresses, dragging pieces of furniture to and fro, or 
causing small objects to fly through the air and hit different 
persons, or to clatter upon the walls. But it was always pre- 
ceded by a most curious noise coming from somewhere* 
apparently, upon the outside wall of the house, near the roof, 

1 The Poltergeist would repeat, in particular, this special knock of 
the Rev. Samuel Wesley, i — 23456 — 7. 

f 81 


s.p. 



EXAMINATION 

and always in that special place. This is described as being like 
a winding or cr anking ; like the turning or winding of clock- 
work, of a windlass or of some machine, continuing as a rule 
for the space of some quarter of an hour together, and its 
pranks or manifestations could not begin, it was to be sup- 
posed, until this power had been stored, this clock wound up, 
or the process, whatever it may have been, had been brought 
to the necessary pitch of readiness. When that had been done, 
and the cranking stopped, it was then just a question of what 
form the haunting would take. But it was certain, at least, that 
it was ready to begin. 

During all of these evenin g or nocturnal visits, when the 
spirit was abroad in the children’s bedrooms, it was noticed 
that Hetty, the youngest daughter, stirred much in her sleep 
and that her face was flushed . 1 Her breathing was troubled, 
and yet the most obstreperous attention of the -Poltergeist, 
the heaving, shaking, pinching, or hitting of her body, would 
never wake her. She continued in her slumber, but her dis- 
turbed and noisy breathing and the flushing of her face, even 
when the energies of the spirit had relaxed, or had not yet 
assumed their most violent forms, were the symptoms that 
she was under its spell or control, that she was, in fact, the 
special victim chosen for its workings. Of course, the truth, 
which never occurred to their credulity, was that she was not 
only its instrument, but was the Poltergeist herself. Was she, 
we may wonder, the child who was alive, but yet unborn, be- 
fore her mother’s estrangement from her father? Such things 
have a very definite effect upon the psychosis. There is, 
often, evidence that it takes more than one person to make a 
Poltergeist. 

It is possible that it may have been the mother and daugh- 
ter together who were responsible for these extraordinary 
happenings. Not as deliberate accomplices, but in sub- 
conscious intention, working in with each other, without sur- 
face knowledge and with no thing approachin g p lanning or dis- 
cussion, to the perfecting of these mediumistic pranks. Their 
subconscious intelligence, their souls, for this is one meaning 

1 It is nearly impossible to determine the age of Hetty Wesley at this 
time. She may have been as young as fourteen, or as old as nineteen. 

82 



EXAMINATION 

of that word, had, therefore, if this were true, a definite, but 
dumb, contract between them. And such a compact almost 
presupposes a third person who drew up the terms, and for 
whose benefit it was put to work. The contracting of this 
silent alliance must have had a go-between, or a power whom 
both parties implicitly obeyed. For, in its workings, it was a 
treaty of mutual balance; neither mother nor daughter, it is 
evident, would do anything to invalidate the tricks or wonders 
of their cherished master. 

If it worked alone, inhabiting only the shell of the child, 
even then it possessed a special knowledge, a kind of spiritual 
blackmail, upon the mother. And the particular direction of 
this occult power is always towards the secret or concealed 
weaknesses of the spirit, those of its failing s in which the spirit 
becomes flesh. It implements the obscene or erotic recesses of 
the soul. The mysteries of puberty, that trance or dozing of 
the psyche before it awakes into adult life, is a favourite play- 
ground for the Poltergeist. Pregnancy, it would only be natural 
to suppose, might produce the same subconscious receptivity. 
And the failing, or dying, of those same powers can bring on 
that identical mood with all the fluctuating changes or meta- 
morphoses of soul and body. But, in each one of these psychical 
situations there is some factor which is neither quite soul, nor 
all body. In children and young persons, where it is in associ- 
ation with delayed or premature puberty, the conditions and 
symptoms are those of too much sleep; in older persons, the 
dying stragglings of their potency produce a condition which 
is like that of sleeplessness. Nervous delusions, exaggerated 
suspicions, worrying over trivial details, these are exactly akin 
to the mental and spiritual results of insomnia. The psyche, 
then, is difficult to awake and, once aroused, takes long in 
dying. But it is a nervous force, over and above its material 
functions. Energies play, like lightnings, round the sleepy or 
lethargic body in which it lives. 

These activities, of which there is so much evidence, have 
never received their proper share of attention owing to the 
fact that they have been treated with complete credulity, or, 
once the trick has been exposed, interest has lapsed and no 
further investigation has been undertaken. And yet it is when 

83 



EXAMINATION 

the supernatural has been disproved that these cases become 
really interesting. Some outer thing is really inhabiting a 
human body and imparting to it powers of deceit of which only 
a half, or, it may be, none of its normal intelligence at all, is 
aware. But, as well, it has often powers which cannot be ex- 
plained away as mere trickery or sleight of hand. And it has 
always, and in every case, a devilish ingenuity that is entirely 
different from the naughtiness or mischief of any ordinary 
child. The bias is never directed towards doing something 
funny or amusing; it is always meant to instil terror. It is the 
dark background to the mind upon which it preys. 

But the Poltergeist of Epworth Rectory was lacking in one of 
the finer instruments of panic. It never spoke. For, often 
enough, the spirit has a voice. The Poltergeist of Ringcroft, 
in Galloway, which was our first instance, has already been 
described in some few of its remarks, and in its cries of ‘Bo, 
bo’ and ‘Kick, cuck’, which were heard during prayers. This 
manifestation, it should be remarked, took place in 1695, and 
Galloway was then, or still is, for that matter, one of the most 
remote parts of Scotland. Later on, the Reverend Alexander 
Telfair, who published the account from which we have 
quoted, describes how it woke up Andrew Mackie, one of the 
household, who was asleep, with the words ‘Thou shalt be 
troubled till Tuesday.’ All in the house heard this. He asked 
it, ‘Who gave thee a commission?’ It answered ‘God gave’ me 
a commission, and I am sent to warn the land to repent, for a 
judgement is to come if the land do not quickly repent.’ It 
commanded him to reveal this upon his peril, and added that 
if the land did not repent, it would go to its father and get a 
commission to return with a hundred worse than itself and 
would trouble every family in the land. Here, a g ain 3 there can 
be no doubt whatever that the actual Poltergeist was one of 
the children of the family. It had, in fact, learnt to ventrilo- 
quize. This, , though, does not make the mystery any less 
unpleasant. Many years of training, as well as a special apti- 
tude, go to the making of a ventriloquist. In fact, the Polter- 
geist in its play with a ventriloquist’s dummy, is as complicated 
a trick as if the medium, who had never been taught, became 
an adept at playing the piano. There have been cases, too, in 

84 



EXAMINATION 

which a child, or a young girl, will reel off long strings of 
sentences in some foreign tongue, and it has been proved, 
upon more than one occasion, that this is no less than some 
miraculous feat of memory, dating, perhaps, from hardly more 
than a single experience of hearing someone speak in whatever 
foreign language it may have been. But there is always, to the 
majority of persons, something weird and unpleasant about 
ventriloquism, a point of view which is helped by the extreme 
ugliness, the wildly unfunny humour, of the dummy’s appear- 
ance. He is, always, the type of the wooden head child, a 
variety which is to be seen in ordinary life and that approxi- 
mates to the idiot boy. Who, then, can have taught die Polter- 
geist to speak? Who was the master of this art of ventrilo- 
quism? 

In the case of the Wesley family there is one other signifi- 
cant feature. Upon one occasion, the second time when anything 
was seen, a little animal described as looking like a badger ran 
out from underneath one of the children’s beds. Was it, we 
wonder, the bed of Hetty, who was sleeping with the confused 
breathing and the flushed face that were so often noticed? The 
children, themselves, seem to have attributed it all to that litde 
animal, for they even called the spirit by a nickname, ‘Jeff’. 
This, as other writers have pointed out, has some extraordinary 
points of resemblance with the ‘talking mongoose’ which, in 
that lonely farm of Cashen’s Gap, in the Isle of Man, was the 
minor, but mysterious sensation, of a few years ago. In that 
case, the mongoose even referred to itself under the name of 
‘Jeff’. 1 It had made a particular friend of the daughter of the 
house and the circumstances in that peculiar story do not pre- 
clude the possibility, they, indeed, point to the feet, that the 
daughter was a ventriloquist. In this, as in the case of Mrs. 
Wesley and her daughter, the mother may, or may not, have 
been unconscious assistant to her child. It has been pointed 
out that the farm was in an extremely lonely place, such as 
Epworth, 2 or Ringcroft, in Galloway, and these frightening 

'And one of the ghosts at Willing -ton Mill was known to the 
neighbours as ‘Old Jeffrey’. Cf. The Night Side of Nature , by Mrs. 
Catherine Crowe, 1852, p. 351. 

2 For the lonely situation of Epworth Rectory, see p. 55. 

85 



EXAMINATION 

events were, certainly, a stimulus and an excitement. Someone 
who possessed this faculty, consciously or unconsciously, 
would be reluctant to give up their powers of entertainment. 
And yet, how curious never to come out into the open! They 
were careful of their secret as any escaped murderer. And there 
are, and must be, as many reasons for this. 

As to the levitation of objects, many successes, it is evident, 
could be won with the help of a piece of black thread, for 
instance. But, at the same time, there are circumstantial 
stories which point to the actual possession of some power over 
inanim ate objects. But the spirit in every case, as, indeed, 
the talking mongoose said, often enough, in not over-refined 
language, is suspicious. It will not work in front of doubters, 
or of persons whom there is not a good chance of convincing. 
And it is, surely, unnatural according to our view of these 
phenomena, to blame it for this. Why should it display the 
most precious of its gifts to an unappreciative audience, who 
are lying in wait to rob it of its birthright! The trick, like one of 
the masterpieces of a famous chef, should only be displayed 
upon select occasions, where every circumstance is congenial. 
Not every public is worthy of its greatest pains. Not only this, 
but unless all the factors are propitious, we may conclude that 
the wonder will not work. For it is probable that it requires 
the participation of all concerned. A judicious mingling of 
confirmed believers and of a few persons who are certain to be 
converted must be its ideal audience. And, in a lonely farm- 
house or parsonage, with a family who are already completely 
in its control and under its subjection, a family, moreover, who 
must regard these events, however disturbing, as an entertain- 
ment, as a solace against the dullness of their lives, there could 
be no limits to the scope and variety of its play. In such a case 
it becomes like a virtuoso performing to a chosen gathering of 
his friends. Nothing is discordant or jarring in this perfect 
circle. On the other hand, the arrival of a stranger might mar 
the harmony of these select proceedings. And the tempera- 
mental musician — and who has more of a temperament than 
the Poltergeist? — might refuse to perform any more. 

In particular, the scientific investigator might be expected 
to act as an absolute deterrent. Why, and for what reason, 

86 



EXAMINATION 

should the spirit perform its tricks for such? The steadfastly 
incredulous are, in this respect, akin to those unhappy persons 
who dislike music. Conversion is out of the question; and the 
Poltergeist, moreover, must be credited with its own reasons 
for not wishing to become a mere laboratory experiment. Its 
powers are reserved for very special occasions and the object 
behind them, for there is, of course, an object, must be far 
removed from any wish to be made a discussion, and a mere 
explanation, in the cold light of day. Like owl, or bat; or 
nocturnal spider, the Poltergeist must prefer the dark. 

Its powers, then, seem to be fixed or loaded in the person 
of someone in the house, preferably a child in the most im- 
pressionable months of its life. It numbs, or altogether subdues, 
the surface consciousness, so that the tasks to which it is put 
are ignored or forgotten by the medium, who may yet lend all 
his or her powers of ingenuity, and more than his or her nor- 
mal share of that, to the perfecting of this trickery. It learns 
the arts of conjuring, of sleight of hand, or even of ventrilo- 
quism. It can show the most wakeful apprehension while in 
this subnormal trance. The evil spirit prompts it to every 
description of deceit and fraud. But these adjuncts of guilt are 
not to be taken in presumption of nothing but trickery and 
lying. They are the mere external trappings; and it would be as 
sensible to disparage the whole art of acting because it relies on 
scenery and costume for its immediate effects. Where the 
whole method is evil, and worked for evil ends, it is only 
natural to expect that it will make use of any and every weapon 
that lies to hand. For it is an art of deceit, and the smaller 
trickeries that are so easily unm asked are no more than the 
clothes and scenery of the play. When stones, or pennies, are 
thrown against the window, when furniture is dragged about 
in a room overhead, and there can be no more doubt as to the 
child who did this, then, indeed, the mystery is far from solved. 
For it would have been easy to guess this much at the begin- 
ning. It is from now, onward, that the true mystery begins. 

These few, simple trickeries are in proof of what is here. 
For the real feats of the Poltergeist are only done when the 
ground is carefully prepared. This lonely farmhouse or parson- 
age must have that air of expectancy in which anything may 

87 



EXAMINATION 

happen. Nothing, and nobody, can be entirely trusted. Little 
tricks or deceits are continually in play. There is no knowing 
who is in the plot. And the person, or persons, could plead 
entire ignorance and tell the truth in that. Their dual person- 
ality is hidden from them; or, if they are aware of it, there is no 
explanation they can offer. A mother, as we have seen, could 
aid or abet her daughter. Is it unreasonable, in such a case, to 
think that the child may have learnt from its parent? There 
may be a long tradition behind many such spirits in the 
seventeenth century. In the recent case that we have men- 
tioned, the Manx background may have been more than 
fortuitous. For the mother was of Manx origin, and the child 
who was, and may still be, pivot of the action had a Manx 
name, Voirrey, which has its own special significance and its 
bearing, so to speak, upon the action, since Voirrey is the 
Manx form of the name Mary. 

But let us, for the sake of our own information, recapitulate 
the haunting of Epworth Rectory in the very words, in the 
verbatim report, gathered from his family and noted down by 
John Wesley, for this evidence has its bearing upon what is to 
follow. It is in the fight of this report that we shall proceed to 
another and parallel encounter. This, for instance, comes at 
the beginning of the story: ‘After 9, Robert Brown— the ser- 
vant-sitting alone by the fire in the back kitchen something 
came out of the copper hole like a rabbit, but less, and turned 
round five times, very swiftly. Its ears lay flat upon its neck, 
and its little scut stood straight up.’ And, upon about the 
same date — it is the Rev. Samuel Wesley speaking: ‘My man 
who lay in the garret heard someone come slating through the 
garret to his chamber, rattling by his side, as if against his 
shoes, though he had none there; at other times walking up and 
down stairs, when all the house were in bed, and gobb ling like 
a turkeycock.’ And now we come to the interruption of the 
prayers, and this is given in John Wesley’s own words: ‘The 
year before King William died my father observed that my 
mother did not say Amen to the prayer for the Kin g . She said 
she could not, for she did not believe the Prince of Orange was 
king. My father vowed he would never cohabit with her till she 
did. He, then, took his horse, and rode away; nor did she hear 

88 



EXAMINATION 

anything of him for a twelvemonth. He, then, came back and 
lived with her as before. But I fear his vow was not forgotten 
before God.’ 1 This episode must have taken place in 1701 and 
since the Wesley parents had no fewer than nineteen children, 
of whom some fourteen died in infancy, it is safe, perhaps, to 
conclude that this will have been the only year, out of twenty 
and more years of married life, in which Mrs. Wesley had a 
respite from the labours of childbearing. Now the Poltergeist 
of Epworth, as we have seen, became particularly violent 
during family prayers, and especially during the prayer for the 
King. John Wesley had the decided opinion that this fact must 
have some connection with the quarrel, long before, between 
his father and mother. 

This is his description of how it afflicted the children: 
‘They were much affected, though asleep, sweating and 
trembling exceedingly.’ Soon after, it made a terrific dis- 
turbance in the Rector’s study, which he entered, alone, 
resolved to meet it upon its own ground. ‘When I heard the 
noise, I spoke to it to tell me what it was, but never heard any 
articulate voice, and only, once or twice, two or three feeble 
squeaks, a little louder than the chirping of a bird.’ 

The time at which the manifestations began was nearly 
always 9.45 in the evening. ‘Emilia heard the usual signal of 
its be ginning to play, with which she was perfectly well 
acquainted: it was like the strong winding up of a jack.’ It is 
described, in other places, in the narrative, as ‘resembling 
the loud creaking of a saw] or rather that of a windmill, when 
the body of it is turned about, in order to shift the sails to 
the wind’. Or we are told: ‘it is like a carpenter planing deals.* 
The phenomena would, then, immediately begin; and an 
expressive phrase described their gradual quietening down 
again into silence, for we read, of its knocking, that ‘at its 
going off, it is like the rubbing of a beast against a wall*. 

Now the haunting of Epworth Rectory is, in some senses, a 
simple case, because the agent or agents are known, and for the 
reason that the disturbances continued for such a limited time, 

1 The Rev. Samuel Wesley had been presented to the living of Ep- 
worth by Queen Mary, to whom he had dedicated a poem on the life 
of Christ. The Rev. Samuel Wesley deserted his wife in 1701-2. 

89 



EXAMINATION 

during the space, only, of the two months of November and 
December 1719, after which they ceased entirely, and appear 
never to have begun again. The most remarkable points in the 
evidence, taking it as a whole, are the rapping during family 
prayers, and the curious inarticulate sounds, two or three 
feeble squeaks, heard only once or twice, a little louder than 
the chirping of a bird. These, so to speak, were the creakings 
of the machinery, the attempts at its highest functions, which 
is voice transference, or the simulation of that. We must note, 
also, the ‘gobbling like a turkeycock’, when ‘someone came 
slaring through the garret’. There are, also, the two animal 
apparitions, the little creature ‘like a rabbit, but less’, that 
leapt out from the kitchen copper, with its ears lying flat upon 
its neck, and its litde scut standing straight up, and the little 
animal, like a badger, that ran out from underneath one of the 
children’s beds. The children, indeed, blamed all that hap- 
pened upon this animal, whatever it may have been, if, in 
fact, it had any existence, at all, except in their imaginations. 
Every form of the manifestations was ‘Old Jeffrey’ to their 
minds; it was Old Jeffrey who knocked during prayers, and 
who, every evening at 9.45, gave them his signal to begin. 
More especially must we note the vivid descriptions given of 
the noise of this process of preparation for what was to come. 

In the light of these details we will transfer ourselves, as 
quickly as may be, to the scene of a Poltergeist, which, if less 
famous, is in all respects even more remarkable than that of 
Epworth Rectory. This is the haunting of Willington Mill, an 
appropriately lonely spot in Tyneside, between Newcastle and 
North Shields. Willington Mill was famous, locally, as a 
haunted house, and, in due course, all memory of the extra- 
ordinary happenings that took place there might have been 
allowed to die. It is most fortunate, therefore, that the diary 
kept by the owner of the house, Mr. Joseph Procter, should 
have turned up, many years later, in the possession of his son, 
Mr. Edmund Procter,; who allowed it to be published in the 
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research , in their volume for 
1892. The diary is, unhappily, not complete and the son, at 
that time seems still to have entertained some hope of dis- 
covering the missing portion. We are ignorant of whether he 

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EXAMINATION 

succeeded or not. In any case, nothing further would seem to 
have been published upon this matter. As it stands, though, 
this little-known diary, which has never been given to die 
general public, is one of the four classical instances of the 
Poltergeist in these islands, the others being the Narrative of 
the Drummer of Tedworth; the haunting of Epworth Rec- 
tory; and our contemporary instance of the haunting of 
Cashen’s Gap, the ‘talking mongoose’, in fact, of only a year 
or two ago. But, of these four, that of Willington Mill is in 
some ways the most interesting, as it is certainly the most 
closely and accurately observed. 

For the hauntings continued with hardly an interruption for 
the space of some twelve years until, eventually, the family 
could stand it no longer, the health of the children was pre- 
judiced, and they had to leave. The owner of Willington Mill 
was Mr. Joseph Procter, a Quaker gentleman, a person noted 
for his probity and truthfulness and, so we are informed by his 
son, a staunch and incorruptible teetotaller. His business was 
that of a farmer and mill-owner. He entered into possession of 
Willington Mill in 1835 and vacated it, under the pressure of 
these peculiar circumstances, in 1847. It may be remarked in 
parenthesis that, at the date the diary was published, in 1892, 
his son, who would be between fifty and sixty years of age, 
could remember, as a child, the last few years of these pheno- 
mena, and had a sister alive who corroborated his evidence. 
Innumerable other details he knew, of course, from hearsay, 
these stories being, it was natural, the most interesting thing 
that had to do with his family. In feet, his childhood can have 
consisted of little else than these extraordinary happenings 
and the tales or echoes of what had gone before. 

The diary is written in plain, truthful language that reflects 
this Quaker family in all the simplicity of their daily lives. 
They lived here frugally but comfortably and far removed, at 
least, from poverty. It was a large house of three storeys, the 
top floor of attics not being put to use, for the building was 
large enough for their requirements without it. The attics 
were, therefore, left empty. The house was old-fashioned, but 
not actually old in date, having been built soon after 1800, or a 
mere thirty years before they entered into occupation. During 

9i 



EXAMINATION 

twenty-five of these years, since 1806, the house had been lived 
in by a Quaker family of the odd name of Unthanks, cousins 
of the Procters. Previous to their arrival the house had the 
reputation of being haunted, but nothing peculiar had been 
heard by than during their occupancy. Antiquity, however, is 
not necessary for these thing s. The farmhouse at Cashen’s Gap 
was built, or altered, out of recognition by its present pro- 
prietor, who installed in it that elaborate system of deal 
p anelling which has given to the whole farmhouse the reson- 
ance of a sounding board and fitted it peculiarly for the simu- 
lance, or transference, of sounds. Antiquity is no necessity; 
what is needed are congenial circumstances, and in the rare 
perfection of these the phenomena will flourish. The diary 
begins with the earliest manifestations of something peculiar. 
It was first noticed by the children’s nurse, who complained 
of curious sounds in the attic overhead, of the dragging of 
heavy objects and the noise of footsteps. She was made ill 
and sleepless by their frequency and had, before, long, to be 
dismissed and another taken in her place, who soon became a 
victim to the same experience. Within a short time these 
bangings and knockings were heard all over the house by all 
its occupants; but its centre of action, or starting point, was the 
garret, on the third floor, over the front door. 

Another very curious thing happened at about this time. 
The mill at the back of the house had in its yard a wooden 
cistern on iron wheels to bring water for the horses. When in 
motion, this cistern made a very peculiar noise which could be 
heard at a considerable distance. Now it was the duty of Mr. 
Thomas Mann, the foreman of the mill, to come up, every 
night, in order to work the mill until 2 a.m. Upon the night in 
question, going out to fill the barrow with coals, about one 
o’clock, he heard this machine, as he thought, going along the 
yard. It was creaking excessively, from want of oil, as might 
be supposed, and was then drawing near the yard gates, to- 
wards which he pursued after it. The cistern was a heavy affair 
that required a horse to drag it along, and he could only think 
that, while the f amily slept, someone was trying to remove and 
steal it. So he followed after it, when, to his astonishment, there 
was the engine, just where it should have been, standing quiet 

92 



EXAMINATION 

and idle in its shed. And as he came up to it, the noise ceased 
and all was silent. He afterwards searched round the premises 
with a lantern but descried nothing. This odd occurrence, 
which it is difficult to explain, took place at the very start of 
the hauntings and might never have been mentioned by the 
man to his master, had not the rumour gone round of the still 
stranger events within the house itself. For, by now, the spirit 
was causing heavy objects to fly all over the place, and was 
indulging in a perfect plethora of knockings and rappings. 
The diary, at this point, becomes almost monstrous. It is a 
long recital of these phenomena, continuing month after 
month, but growing gradually in intensity. Within the next 
year or so it had become a never failing and expected occur- 
rence, a part, almost, of the everyday life of the house. But, at 
about this time, also, it made a most peculiar whis tling noise 
heard generally once or twice, but on infrequent occasions, 
during the night, from across the yard. This sound was of a 
most peculiar nature, so that Mr. Procter would imitate it to 
his family, and the owner of the diary, his son, could well re- 
member his father’s doing so. Others of the family, also, had 
heard it; and we may be reminded, at this point, of the 
‘whisling and whisting’ of the spirit of Ringcroft How 
interesting, then, it would be to have heard, if not the original, 
at least the imitation of it which Mr. Procter could produce for 
many years afterwards, long indeed after he had been forced to 
leave Willington Mill. It may be thought that we are suggest- 
ing that he was, himself, the agency in this. But we mean 
nothing of the kind. His diary is much too genuine a docu- 
ment to bear this interpretation and, indeed, he seems by this 
point, though he endured with the Poltergeist for many years 
longer, to have been beginning to get a litde frightened him- 
self. It was a house in which anything and everything might 
happen. There is, probably, no other case upon record in 
which the phenomena continued with such a show of vigour 
for so long an extent of time. In all they lasted, as we have said, 
for not less than twelve years, and with a steadily increasing 
violence, growing, also, in the scope of their activities. The 
children were, by now, becoming old enough to take notice 
of what was happening. Perhaps their evidence is not so con- 

93 



EXAMINATION 

vincing. Children so easily imagine things, or exaggerate the 
truth until it becomes untruth. Also, after a time, with legen- 
dary events that have been firmly impressed upon them, as 
children, by their nurses and parents, it is difficult to remember 
what really happened, and what one was told did happen. A 
person, for instance, who at the age of three, saw Queen 
Victoria, is more likely to describe her to you in the words of 
his nurse or parent, repeated to him over and over again, it is 
probable, than in the words of a genuine personal experience. 
So, in a case such as this, the family legend of the haunted 
house hardly allows of an authentic description of feet, 
especially when the children were of so young an age. By now, 
also, it must have become a kind of entertainment to them, a 
freezing of the blood that through constant repetition had 
some elements of pleasure in its pain. 

After all these years, therefore, of persistent haun ting the 
credible becomes merged, a little, into the incredible. A 
diaphanous, or transparent figure is seen standing in the 
window of the haunted attic; and the ghost or Poltergeist, or 
whatever it may have been, comes down the stair and walks 
boldly into the rooms. Upon one occasion, Mrs. Procter who, 
through terror, had her sister to sleep with her in a great old 
fashioned tester bed with curtains, heard the dreadful foot- 
steps upon the stairs, and it came into her room. She and her 
sister through the heavy curtains saw a body interpose itself 
between themselves and the rushlight that they kept burning 
all night upon the table. This body masked or obscured the 
rushlight, as any living body would do that stood between you 
and the candle flame. And then, after an interval, it went away, 
leaving the door wide open, which, when the daylight came 
and they had courage to look out from the sheets that they had 
pulled over their heads, was locked, or even bolted, as it had 
been, that night, at the time when they went to bed. 

At about this period, also, it began to be articulate. It was 
heard, upstairs in its garret, repeating some me aningless 
phrases that sounded like ‘Never mind — Come and get’. It 
made a noise, as well, like the winding up of the dock that 
stood upon the landing of the stairs. It gobbled like a turkey- 
cock; that peculiar whistling sound was heard again; and by an 

94 



EXAMINATION 

incredible parallel with the Poltergeist of Ringcroft, it was 
heard by one of the sons, a small boy of five or six years old, 
to say, ‘Chuck, chuck 5 , and to make the sound of a child’s lips 
when it takes its mouth away from its mother’s breast. What, 
then, can be the import and significance of this? The gobbling, 
as of a turkeycock, the chuck, chuck, that connect it with the 
hauntings of both Epworth Rectory and of Ringcroft, these 
peculiar points of identity must be in the nature of some clue, 
some explanation of the mystery . 1 

By this time, in supreme manifestations of its powers it 
could create animal apparitions. A small creature, like a 
monkey, was seen upon several occasions in the children’s 
rooms; and the owner of the diary, one of the younger children, 
remembered well, after the lapse of some fifty years, his actual 
experience of seeing this animal, to the reality of which he was 
prepared to take his oath. He gives, in fact, his definite assur- 
ance that he saw it, in the statement, written by him, that 
accompanies the publication of his father’s diary, in the 
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research . Moreover, his 
sister, who was still living, described, without being able to 
give any explanation of it, an animal that she and her sisters 
saw in the garden, described as being like a white cat, only 
larger and with a long, pointed snout . 2 The happenings were, 

1 ‘Jeff 5 , the ‘talking mongoose 5 , used to call out ‘Charlie, Charlie, 
chuck, chuck, chuck. 5 Cf. the evidence of Mr. Charles Northwood 
in The Haunting of C ashen's Gap by Harry Price and R. S. Lambert, 
p. 99. This, again, is a most curious coincidence. 

2 What follows is the account of an interview between Professor 
Sidgwick and Mrs. Hargrave, on Jan. 3rd, 1884, taken from his notes 
made at the time : ‘Mrs. Hargrave, one of Mrs. Procter’s sisters, saw 
on one occasion an apparition similar to that seen by Dr. Drury. She 
described it as the figure of a woman in a grey mantle, which came 
through the wall of her room from the next. There was a light in the 
room; her sister who was with her was asleep. The feet of the figure 
appeared to be about three feet from the floor. It came close up to the 
bed. She also saw in the daytime a large white cat in the garden. It was 
larger than a real cat and with a long snout. It appeared to go through 
the closed garden-door or through the wall into the engine-house, 
where Mr. Procter, being in the mill-yard, saw it go into the engine- 
house and disappear as if it had gone into the fire. The cat was also 
seen by her in one of the bedrooms, going through a closed door. She 
often heard the noises which so many others in the house heard; e.g. 
she would hear sounds as of someone coming downstairs with wooden 

95 



EXAMINATION 

in fact, becoming more incredible than ever. But it is necessary, 
either to disbelieve the whole lot of them and dismiss them as 
lies, the worthy Mr. Procter being, therefore, one of the most 
permanent and long-winded liars upon record; or else it is to 
be admitted that some exceptionally curious things had hap- 
pened, and that, in the light of these, some exaggeration was 
natural, but that, granted the long continuance over so many 
years of these ideal conditions, this perfect receptivity for the 
Poltergeist, not a few of these embellishments of the imagina- 
tion may have been so completely in the atmosphere of what 
had gone before and was authentic fact, that they amounted, 
on the whole, to no improbable magnification of the truth, 
that they followed, indeed, exactly the direction into which 
events were leading and were the fitting culmination, the 
logical finale, to this chain of incredible circumstances. 

But there came a period, in the end, when these things were 
no longer to be borne. The nerves of everyone in the house 
were affected, and the health of the children had to be con- 
sidered. At last, therefore, in 1847, the Procter family removed 
from Willington Mill. The son writes that he well remembers 
his parents’ description of their last night in the haunted 
house. The whole night, it would seem, was a turmoil, a 
crescendo of noise. Boxes and heavy packing-cases were 
dragged to and fro across that attic floor and it sounded as if 

shoes and rapping every rail with a stick, also as of the clock being 
wound up. For about three months she slept in the room on the third 
floor over the nursery, and though she heard the noises for three 
months, said nothing about them, till her youngest sister, now Ate. 
Wright, heard a loud noise and talked to her about it. Ate. Har- 
grave also often felt her bed shaken as if some one was standing at the 
bottom of it and striking blows against a board placed to keep a child 
from falling out. She also used to hear dancing and noises in a room 
which was used as a schoolroom (the schoolroom being ascertained to 
be empty), and shaking of the window frame in the room below. When 
the children were playing in the room upstairs, Airs. Hargrave and her 
sister, playing with them, used to see a door banged in their feces, the 
windows being shut and there being no draughts to cause it. 

‘Airs. Hargrave also referred to many of the incidents related in 
Air. Procter’s narrative in connection with other members of the 
family, and gave Professor Sidgwick an account of the description of 
the haunting by the clairvoyante “Jane” (for which see Airs. Sidg- 
wick’s paper “On the Evidence for Clairvoyance”, Proceedings S.PJi. } 
Vol. VII, pp. 54, 82-4, 86, 87).’ 


96 



EXAMINATION 

trunks were being corded and made ready for leaving. The 
Poltergeist, in feet, was going with them. It was, in Mr. Ed- 
mund Procter’s words, a pantomimic or spiritualistic repeti- 
tion of all the noises incident to a household flitting. In fact, 
though, it did not accompany them. They were troubled by it 
no more. It had brought them to the edge of the precipice and 
was making pretence, upon that final night, of leaping over the 
edge of it and plunging down, down with them. Or was it no 
more than the Poltergeist’s sardonic humour, its cynical 
speeding of the departing guest? It may, even, have been 
attempting, in all earnestness, to follow them. And yet, in 
spite of this, it would seem more probable that this was its 
final threat of terror. It was making as if to follow them, so 
that they could never be free of it. But they left, as we have 
said, and were troubled by it no more. 

The subsequent fate of the house is described in the notes 
that accompany the diary. For some time the mill stood 
empty; and then it became a tenement, and was lived in by 
several families. A visit to it is described, in these changed 
circumstances. That terrible attic floor had become the abode 
of a whole family. But none of the occupants had any com- 
plaints to voice. Nothing at all mysterious ever happened. It 
was sad, we are told, to see the degradation of the house into a 
slum tenement. The garden wall had disappeared. The jar- 
gonelle pear trees that used to blossom up to the third storey 
were mere ghosts with blackened stumps, the large did thorn 
tree of red blossom that flowered so luxuriously had been cut 
down, and the old beds of iris and auricula removed. Nothing 
hardly was left and — of the real interest of that house — nothing 
whatever remained. This account of it was given when the son, 
Mr. Edmund Procter, revisited his home as lately as 1890. 
Long, long ago, it has been pulled down and utterly de- 
molished, and it may be thought doubtful, even, whether any 
local tradition still survives of the strange stories that had once, 
nearly a hundred years ago, made this house famous in its 
neighbourhood. 1 

1 William Howitt, in Visits to Remarkable Places, gives the following 
description of Willington Mill. ‘Between the railway running from 
Newcastle-on-Tyne to North Shields and the river Tyne, there lie 

g 97 s.p. 



EXAMINATION 

It would seem impossible that this whole diary is a fabrica- 
tion of lies. We have to admit, then, that something very 
peculiar was abroad in the house. Exaggeration on the part of 
the women and children, and of the servants in the house, 
is only natural, but there remains the basis of peculiar and 
unaccountable happenings. The two things, though, which 
put the haunting of Willing ton Mill into a category by itself 
are the long continuance of the phenomena, and the absence 
of any agent. There were, apparently, three periods of inten- 
sive activity, the early months of 1835 until December 1840 — 
then five months comparative respite until May 1841 — after 
which the hauntings continued, if anything, worse than be- 
fore — and then a final period, during 1846 and 1847, leading 
up to the almost compulsory desertion of their home by the 
Procter family, a period for which, unfortunately, the diary 
was lost, so that its details are not known. As to the other 

in a hollow, some few cottages, a parsonage, and a mill and a miller’s 
house. These constitute the hamlet of Willington. Just above these 
the railway is carried across the valley on lofty arches, and from it 
you look down on the mill and cottages, lying at a considerable depth 
below. The mill is a large steam flour mill, like a factory, and the 
miller’s house stands near it but not adjoining it. None of the cottages 
which lie between these premises and the railway, either, are in con- 
tact with them. The house stands on a sort of litde promontory, round 
which rims the channel of a watercourse, which appears to fill and 
empty with the tides. On one side of the mill and house, slopes away 
upwards a field, to a considerable distance, where it is terminated by 
other enclosures; on the other stands a considerable extent of ballast- 
hill, i.e. one of the numerous hills on the banks of the Tyne, made by 
the deposit of ballast from the vessels trading thither. At a distance, 
the top of the mill seems about level with the country around it. The 

place lies about half-way between Newcastle and North Shields 

The house is not an old house, as will appear; it was built about the 
year 1800. It has no particularly spectral look about it. . . . Yet looking 
down from the railway, and seeing it and the mill lying in a deep hole, 
one might imagine various strange noises likely to be heard in such a 
place in the night, from vessels on the river, from winds sweeping and 
howling down the gully in which it stands, from engines in the 
neighbourhood connected with coal mines, one of which, I could not 
tell where, was making, at the time I was there, a wild sighing noise 
as I stood on the hill above.’ This account was written in 1846-7, while 
the haunted mill was still tenanted by Mr. Procter and his family. 

We learn from William Howitt’s book that one of the ghosts of 
Willington Mill, that of a man, was well known to the neighbours as 
‘Old Jeffrey’. This is in the direct descent from Epworth Rectory — 
down to Cashen’s Gap ! 


98 



EXAMINATION 

point, the absence of any agent or medium, this is, perhaps, 
the most peculiar feature of all. In every other known case of a 
Poltergeist, without exception, there is, always and invariably, 
a child, or some young person, who, it becomes obvious, is the 
instrument of the phenomena. Upon this occasion there is no 
one upon whom this charge can be laid. As to any possible 
cause, there is only a memorandum in the diary, which breaks 
off dramatically and was never continued, a literary device, it 
may be added, of which telling use was made by Maturin, one 
of the great masters of the macabre, in his Melmoth the 
Wanderer , where the old manuscript that deals with the ghost 
breaks off, in just this manner. The memorandum reads ‘An 
infirm old woman, the mother-in-law of R. Oxon, the builder 
of the premises, lived and died in the house, and after her 

death the haunting was attributed’ 1 And there is that 

other peculiar entry, at the start of the diary in 1835, when 
the hauntings had but just begun: ‘Those who deem all 
intrusion from the world of spirits impossible in the present 
constitution of things will feel assured that a natural solution 
of the difficulty will still be obtained on further investigation; 
while those who believe that . . . there still remain some well- 
attested instances in which good or evil spirits have manifested 
their presence by sensible token will probably deem it possible 
that this may be referred to the latter class — especially when 
they learn that several circumstances tending to corroborate 
such a view are withheld from this narrative.’ And the son, 
Mr. Edmund Procter, adds, significantly, to this, ‘Whether the 
“several circumstances withheld” are disclosed in the written 
narrative which follows I am unable to say.’ 

The visual phantoms at Willington Mill are the least 
interesting part of the story. There is, indeed, nothing at all 
remarkable about them, if we except the two animal phantasms, 
the monkey seen by the children, that is to say, and the large 
white cat, bigger than a real cat and with a long snout, seen by 
Mrs. Hargrave, one of Mrs. Procter’s sisters. In the Journal of 

1 The Rev. Montague Summers, an authority whom it is unwise to 
contradict, states in his Geography of Witchcraft, that Willington 
Mill was built upon the ‘site of a cottage which had once been the 
home of a notorious witch’. I have, unfortunately, been unable to 
discover any additional information about this. 

99 



EXAMINATION 

the Society for Psychical Research from which we quote, there 
is Mrs. Hargrave’s deposition, made to Professor Sidgwick, 
the Editor of the Journal, under the date January 3rd, 1884, 
more than forty years, that is to say, after this apparition was 
seen. It appeared to go through the closed garden door, or 
through the wall into the engine house, where Mr. Procter, 
being in the mill yard, saw it go into the engine house, and dis- 
appear as if it had gone into the fire. This was in the daytime. 
The cat was also seen by her in one of the bedrooms, going 
through a closed door. It can, therefore, have beat only an 
apparition and have had no substance. 

There seems no reason to doubt that this particular haunt- 
ing, that of the large white cat, was akin to an imp, or ani- 
mal familiar, many dozens of examples of which occur in 
the old trials of witches. For instance, Matthew Hopkins, the 
notorious witch-finder of Essex, in the case' of Elizabeth 
Clarke, at the Chelmsford Assizes, in 1645, caused her to be 
‘watched’. He went, with Master Steam, by the justices’ 
direction, to the woman’s room, on March 24th, when she 
offered to call one of her white imps and play with it in her lap; 
but they would not allow it. She had been kept from sleep for 
two or three nights before this, and it was on the fourth night 
that this offer was made, there being, then, ten persons in the 
room. She confessed to having had carnal connection with the 
Devil for six or seven years, who appeared to her three or four 
times a week, in the shape of a proper gentleman with a laced 
band, and would say ‘Besse, I must lie with you,’ which he 
would do for half a night together. Within a quarter of an hour 
after she told them this, there appeared an imp like a white dog 
with sandy spots, very fat and plump, with very short legs, 
which forthwith vanished away. This was Jarmara. Then came 
another imp. Vinegar Tom, like a greyhound with long legs; 
and a black imp, like a polecat; Holt, like a white kitling; 
Sack-and-Sugar, like a black rabbit; and Newes, like a pole- 
cat. Then she ‘confessed several other witches, from whom she 
had her imps, and named to divers women where their marks 
were, the number of their marks, and imps, and imps’ names, 
as Elemanzer, Pyewacket, Peck in the Crown, Grizzel Greedi- 
guts, etc. She further confessed that she had one imp for 



EXAMINATION 

which she would fight up to her knees in blood before she 
would lose it/ There is no question, it should here be added, 
but that the self-confessed witches kept little animals, toads, 
newts or ferrets, which they fed with a drop of blood from 
their fingers, and which, having tasted of blood would return 
every day for more. Ordinary pet animals, cats or dogs, may 
have existed in some such horrid bond with their masters; but 
Jarmara, Vinegar Tom, Sack-and-Sugar, what are we to make 
of these? Against another witch, Ursley Kemp, of St. Osyth, in 
1582, her son, a little boy of eight years old, bore witness that 
she had four spirits; Tyffin, like a white lamb; Tyttey, like a 
little grey cat; Pygine, like a black toad; and Jacke, like a black 
cat. 1 All these, in fact, are completely credible. The son 

1 The names of these familiars may have their particular signifi- 
cance. According to a note, 119, by the Rev. Montague Summers, on 
page 194 of The Geography of Witchcraft , London (Kegan Paul), 
1927, ‘Tyffey was also known as Tyssey. Tyssey and Jack were 
males and could inflict death, being more powerful than Tyffine and 
Pygine, who were females, and only destroyed goods and cattle, or 
punished with lighter ailments. In 1646 a Huntingdon witch, Eliza- 
beth Werd of Great Catworth, gave a sister witch, Frances Moore, a 
white cat, a familiar, named Tissy.’ 

We append, in this footnote, a curious story taken from John 
Wesley’s Journal, Vol. Ill, p. 149, under date October 1, 1763. It is 
an instance of what Wesley considered to be diabolic possession, or 
witchcraft, but which would, in our own day, be classed as hysterical 
obsession. The reader will compare it in his mind with the con- 
fessions of witches and with certain instances of Poltergeist hauntings. 
The Journal reads: T now received a very strange account from a 
man of sense as well as integrity. 

T asked M. S. many questions before she would give me any 
answer. At length, after much persuasion, she said, “On old Michael- 
mas day was three year, I was sitting by myself at my father’s with a 
Bible before me, and one whom I took to be my uncle came into the 
room and sat down by me. He talked to me some time, till, not liking 
his discourse, I looked more carefully at him; he was dressed like my 
uncle, but I observed one of his feet was just like that of an ox. Then 
I was much frighted, and he began torturing me sadly, and told me 
he would torture men ten times more if I would not swear to kill my 
father, which at last I did. He said he would come again on that day 
four years, between half-past two and three o’clock. 

* ‘ “I have several times since strove to write this down, but when 
I did, the use of my hand was taken from me; I strove to speak 
it, but whenever I did, my speech was taken from me; and I 
am afraid I shall be tormented a deal more for what I have spoken 
now.” 

‘Presently she fell into such a fit as was dreadful to look upon: one 

IOI 



EXAMINATION 

alleged that he had seen his mother give them beer to drink* 
and of a white loaf or cake to eat* and that* in the night* the 
spirits would come ‘and sucke blood of her upon her armes 
and other places of her body 5 . And the mother* Ursley Kemp* 
confessed that all this was true. 

The animal apparition of Willington Mill is of the type* 
therefore* of Jarmara* of Vinegar Tom* of Sack-and-Sugar; for 
the four spirits of Ursley Kemp can have been nothing more 
than a white lamb* a grey cat* a black toad* and a black cat* 
however sinister may have been their servitude to the witch 
who was their mistress. Vinegar Tom and his satellites* we are 
told by Matthew Hopkins* came into the room through a hole 
in the wall and disappeared* presumably in the same way. This 
unlikely entrance and exit of a whole troupe of improbable 
animals was accomplished in the presence of ten witnesses* 
which puts a severe strain* it might be thought, upon the 
veracity of the evidence. And yet there is always the possibility 
that there may have been something. 

would have thought she would be tom to pieces. Several persons 
could scarce hold her; till., after a time, she sank down as dead. 

‘From that Michaelmas Day she was continually tormented with 
the thought of killing her father, as likewise of killing herself, which 
she often attempted, but was, as often, hindered. Once she attempted 
to cut her own throat; once to throw herself into Richmond’s Pond; 
several times to strangle herself, which, once or twice, was with 
much difficulty prevented. 

‘Her brother, fearing lest she should at last succeed in her attempt 
and finding her fits come more frequently, got a strait-waistcoat made 
for her, such as they use at Bedlam. It was made of strong ticking, 
with two straps on die shoulders to fasten her down to the bed, one 
across her breast, another across her middle, and another across her 
knees; one likewise was buckled on each leg, and fastened to the side 
of her bed. The arms of the waistcoat drew over her fingers and 
fastened like a purse. In a few minutes after she was thus secured, her 
brother coming to the bed found she was gone. After some time he 
found she was up the chimney, so high up that he could scarce touch 
her feet. When Mary Loftus called her she came down, having her 
hands as fast as ever. 

‘The night after I fastened her arms to her body with new straps 
over and above the rest. She looked at me and laughed, then gave her 
hands a slight turn and all the fastenings were off. 

‘In the morning Mr. Spark came. On our telling him this he said, 
“But I will take upon me to fasten her so that she shall not get loose.” 
Accordingly he sent for some girth-web, with which he fastened her 
arms to her sides, first above her elbows, round her body, then below 

102 



EXAMINATION 

In the case of Ursley Kemp* the details are so circumstantial 
as to be readily acceptable in evidence. There is the statement 
of this witch that* ‘she went unto Mother Bennet’s house for a 
mess of milk* the which she had promised her. But at her 
coming this Examinate saith that she knocked at her door* and 
nobody made her any answer* whereupon she went to her 
chamber window and looked in thereat* saying “Ho* ho* 
Mother Bennet* are you at home? 55 And casting her eyes aside* 
she saw a spirit lift up a cloth lying over a pot* looking much 
like a ferret/ Another witness* at the Essex trials* stated that* 
‘about the fourteenth or fifteenth day of January last she went 
to the house of William Hunt to see how his wife did* and she 
being from home she called at her chamber window and looked 
in* and then espied a spirit to look out of a potcharde from 
under a cloth* the nose thereof being brown like a ferret 5 . But 
this same Mother Bennet* of the preceding incident* admitted 
to having familiars. ‘Many times did they drink of her milk 
bowl. And when* and as often as they did drink the milk* this 

her elbows* then he put it round each wrist* and braced them down 
to each side of the bedstead. After this she was quiet a night and a 
day* then all this was off like the rest. 

‘After this we did not tie her down any more* only watched over 
her night and day. I asked the physician that attended her whether 
it was a natural disorder? He said* “Partly natural* partly diabolical.” 
We then judged there was no remedy but prayer. . . . About half an 
hour after ten* ten of us came together* as we had agreed the day 
before. ... I then fastened her down tb the bed on both sides* and 
set two on each side to hold her if need be. We began laying her case 
before the Lord and claiming His promise on her behalf. Immedi- 
ately Satan raged vehemently. He caused her to roar in an uncommon 
manner* then to shriek* so that it went through our heads* then to 
bark like a dog. Then her face was distorted to an amazing degree* 
her mouth being drawn from ear to ear* and her eyes turning oppo- 
site ways* and starting as if they would start out of her head. Presently 
her throat was so convulsed* that she appeared to be quite strangled; 
then the convulsions were in her bowels* and her body swelled as if 
ready to burst. At other times she was stiff from head to foot as an 
iron bar* being at the same time wholly deprived of her sense and 
motion* not even breathing at a 11. Soon after her body was so writhed* 
one would have thought all her bones must be dislocated/ 

In the end* according to the Journal : ‘She mightily rejoiced in the 
God of her salvation. It was a glorious sight. Her fierce countenance 
was changed* and she looked innocent as a child/ But we are told no 
more of this strange history. And it is probable that the cure did not 
last for long. 


103 



EXAMINATION 

Examinate saith they went into the earthem pot, and lay in the 
wool.’ Another Esses Witch, Mother Waterhouse, ‘kept her cat 
a great while in wool in a pot’. 

Vinegar Tom, Jarmara, Sack-and- Sugar, are more difficult 
to explain. For, at the outset, there is no suggestion that the 
haunting of Willington Mill is a case of witchcraft. If the 
contemporary case of the talking mongoose tallies most exactly 
with the old animal familiars of the witches, there is, as well, 
the little anim al of Epworth Rectory. Both Cashen’s Gap (the 
home of the mongoose) and Epworth Rectory are clear and 
simple cases of the Poltergeist. In both cases the medium is 
plainly established with a suspicion, in either story, that 
mother as well as daughter was knowingly or unknowingly 
involved in it. In Cashen’s Gap there is, as well, a certainty, 
almost, that ventriloquism was practised, again, it is likely, in a 
trance-like state that precludes deliberate fraud. The argu- 
ment that ventriloquism is so difficult to learn, and that a doll 
or puppet has to be used in order to direct the hearer’s atten- 
tion to where the voice is supposed to come from, is disposed 
of by the very existence of the supposed talking mongoose, 
which was, in effect, the marionette of the hapnted action. In 
addition to which the farmhouse was panelled to such for- 
tuitous result that its whole area is described by witnesses as 
being like a sounding board or a speaking tube. 

But the animal phantasm of Willington Mill does not play so 
important a part in the haunting. It is no more than incidental 
to the whole story. Are we to believe that it was created, so to 
speak, in the imagination of Mr. Procter, and conveyed by him 
before the eyes of his sister-in-law, Mrs. Hargraves? Or that 
the reverse process brought it from Mrs. Hargraves, through 
the closed garden door, or through the wall, into the engine 
house, where it was seen by Mr. Procter to ‘disappear as if it 
had gone into the fire’? For it is certain that this apparition 
can have had no real existence; while we must believe, as well, 
that it was definitely seen, and that this is no lying deposition. 
The attitude of Mrs. Hargraves, in her evidence given forty 
years afterwards, and of the whole diary of Mr. Procter, as it 
reflects upon his personal character, is that both saw the thing. , 
but could not explain it. In the words of his son, Mr. Edmund 

104 



EXAMINATION 

Procter, when describing the phantasm of the monkey seen by 
himself, as a small boy; ‘I am merely recording facts as simply 
as I can; readers may smile or mock as seemeth good unto 
them — I cannot alter what has taken place to suit either them 
or anyone else. 5 They undoubtedly saw it; and, just as surely, 
it was not there. It must be classed as an hallu cination. At the 
time, of course, at which this mysterious apparition was seen 
the hauntings had already been in force for several years, and 
it is to be imagined that the nerves of everyone in the family 
were beginning to suffer. This is, though, not enough to 
account for this thing, which, for once, was not heard but seen. 
It is probable that it occurred during the latter years of the 
haunting, between 1841, when the diary abruptly ceases, and 
1847. It is the more to be regretted, therefore, that the rest of 
the diary was never found, for there is no account of the animal 
phantasm in Mr. Procter’s own words, but only in the testi- 
mony given, nearly half a century later, by his sister-in-law. 
As to what this apparition may have been, who can tell? For 
such a thing is like a shape poured into a vacuum of fear. 

The most curious point in all the haunting of Willington 
Mill is the absence of any one person who can have been the 
medium. In every other case, a child or a young person is 
conscious or unconscious go-between, is purveyor, as it were, 
of the supernatural effects. Here, there is no person to be dis- 
covered to whom the blame can be attached. There is only 
this one thing to be taken into consideration, that any person 
of the Quaker sect was, probably, familiar with the life of 
Wesley, and had, therefore, read of the haunting of Epworth 
Rectory. This slight fact might seem to incriminate; to how- 
ever small a degree, Mr. Joseph Procter himself. The appendix 
to this volume of the Journal of the Society for Psychical 
Research contains the correspondence between Mr. Joseph 
Procter and a young doctor, Mr. Edward Drury. This is taken 
from the Local Historian’s Table Book } by M. A. Richardson, 
published in London, in 1843. Mr. Edward Drury is writing 
to ask leave to sit up in the house in the absence of the family — 
and, in the end, permission being granted, it may be added 
that he was rewarded with a silly and conventional experience, 
such as befalls those who do such things. Mr. Edward Drury 

105 



EXAMINATION 

writes: ‘I beg leave to tell you that I have read attentively 
Wesley’s account of such things, but with, I must confess, no 
great belief; but an account of this report coming from one of 
your sect, which I admire for candour and simplicity, my 
curiosity is excited to a high pitch — which I would fain 
satisfy.’ The date of this letter is June 17th, 1840. By 1840, in 
other words, at the very height of these disturbances, Mr. 
Joseph Procter is proved as being conversant with the story of 
what the Wesley family had undergone in similar circum- 
stances. The fact that Mr. Procter, in answering, ‘thinks it 
best to inform him that particular disturbances are far from 
frequent at present, being only occasional and quite uncer- 
tain, and therefore the satisfaction of E. D.’s curiosity must be 
considered as problematical’, looks like a rather shame-faced 
or half-hearted disavowal on the part of the owner of the 
haunted house. An educated Quaker, though, would certainly 
know the details of Wesley’s life, for, in the son’s words, his 
father’s ‘ordinary reading was fairly extensive, the Quarterly 
and Edinburgh being sandwiched with George Fox’s Journal 
and the old Examiner , and Ebenezer Eliot taken alternately 
with some French author or the British Friend ’. There is, 
then, nothing particularly remarkable in the fact that Mr. 
Joseph Procter knew the details of Epworth Rectory. It would 
be, in any case, to a Dissenter, the classical instance of s imilar 
occurrences. 

The diary, on the other hand, is essentially a document 
meant only for his own, or his family’s information in after 
years. It bears no trace whatever of any le aning s towards the 
sensational. This is not the record of someone who is trying 
to become famous through such odd and peculiar occurrences. 
Neither was Willington Mill in such a lonely situation that the 
hauntings can be reckoned as solitary entert ainm ent of its 
occupants. The Newcastle and North Shields Railway, opened 
in 1840, ran about a quarter of a mile from the house, which is 
described as being ‘near a large steam corn mill in full view 
of the Willington viaduct’. It is presumed as certain, in view 
of all this evidence, that there was something exceptionally 
curious and unaccountable at work upon these premises. 

For this is one of three or four great instances, during the last 

106 



EXAMINATION 

three centuries, of something genuinely rare and inexplicable. 
It is, as we have said, more difficult to explain than the 
mystery of Epworth Rectory, or the haunting of Cashen’s Gap. 
There is only the Narrative of the Drummer of Tedworth, 
which is as remarkable. Once in a century, and perhaps not 
more often, it is reasonable to expect supernatural events upon 
this scale of magnitude and reality. The circumstances have 
to be deeply and entirely propitious, as much so as at the birth 
of a Mozart, a Liszt, a Paganini. 

There are, though, certain curious and inexplicable similari- 
ties to be found in all the cases that have been under discus- 
sion. The ‘signal’, as they called it at Epworth Rectory, the 
‘signal of its beginning to play’, ‘like the strong winding up of 
a jack’ ‘resembling the loud creaking of a saw’, ‘or rather that 
of a windmill, when the body of it is turned about, in order to 
shift the sails to the wind’; ‘like a carpenter planing deals’: such 
are some of the descriptions of its sound. This is to be com- 
pared with, at Willington Mill: ‘a noise similar to the winding 
up of a clock, apparently on the stairs where the clock stands, 
which continued for the space of ten minutes.’ At Cashen’s 
Gap there is the voice of the mongoose, always high and shrill, 
and fitting exactly to the description of a ventriloquist at work . 1 
At Epworth Rectory there was ‘never heard any articulate 
voice, and only, once or twice, two or three feeble squeaks, a 
little louder than the chirping of a bird’. At Willington Mill, 
Mr. Procter, ‘another night heard two very peculiar sounds as 
of whistling or whizzing’, sounds which, as we have seen, he 
could imitate in after years. Upon another night ‘he had 
heard several prolonged and peculiar whistles, which were, also, 
heard by the nurse in another room; they seemed to come from 
the landing’. On yet another occasion Jon. D. Carr, the 
brother of Mrs. Procter, ‘also heard a peculiar whistle, which 
he imitated so as exactly to resemble what J. P.’ (Mr. Procter) 
‘heard some time before’. The mongoose of Cashen’s Gap 
was, also, in the habit of whistlin g . One ev ening Captain 
Macdonald, the observer sent down to interview it by Mr. 

1 This theory of ventriloquism at Cashen’s Gap should be com- 
pared with the Saragossa ghost of 1934. The culprit in this case was 
the sixteen-year-old maid, Maria Pascuela. 

107 



EXAMINATION 

Harry Price, of the Society for Psychical Research, took out 
his watch and timed it whistling for twenty-two seconds. And 
how does this compare, for instance, with the ‘whisling and 
whistmg’ of the spirit of Ringcroft! 

But there is a parallel which is more extraordinary still. The 
spirit of Ringcroft cried out ‘Kick cuck’; the mongoose of 
Cashen’s Gap greeted Mr. Northwood with a cry of ‘Charlie, f 
Charlie* chuck, chuck, chuck’; the Poltergeist of Willington 
Mill called in the children’s bedroom, ‘Chuck, chuck’, and 
then made a noise like a child sucking. The immaterial form 
created by this evil spirit, for it is impossible to credit it with a 
benign purpose, is of childish propensity, or like an old and 
puking woman. It babbles, as though in the struggles of life or 
death. It is dying, or but just bom, an embryonic phantasm 
which is only upon the borderlands, upon one frontier or the 
other, of human life. None can pity it, or feel sorrow for it. 
There is an obscene or drivelling sense to it, and no thing more 
than that. It is in all thin g s unholy, unhallowed, and not 
human. Who can doubt that it is the projection, not of the 
brain, but of the obscene senses, of the deep, hidden under- 
world which is at the back of every mind. This universality of 
the ‘chuck, chucking’ cries of Ringcroft, of Cashen’s Gap, of 
Willington Mill, is paralleled to a certain extent, also, at Ep- 
worth Rectory, where, ‘My man who lay in the garret, heard 
some one come slaring through the garret to his chamber . . . 
at other times walking up and down stairs, when all the house 
were in bed, and gobbling like a turkeycock.’ And we get this 
significant description of the subsidence of the noises, when 
the knocking was about to die down: ‘At its going off, it was 
like the rubbing of a beast against a wall.’ This, so to speak, 
was how the engine of the hauntings at Epworth Rectory ran 
down. It began with that well-known signal of its beginning 
to play; and ended like the rubbing of a horse or cow against a 
wall, a sound which is known to all persons who have ever 
lived in the country. Surely, and certainly, its secret is in this. 

Now it is to be noticed that, in all thing s, these hauntin g s 
are conformable to the mentality of those who may be thought 
to be responsible for than. The only visual phantasms at 
Willington Mill that are of interest are the large white cat and 

108 



EXAMINATION 

the monkey. A figure of a woman in a grey mantle coming 
through a wall, the feet of the figure appearing to be about 
three feet from the floor, as seen by Airs Hargraves; or the 
similar apparition seen by Air. Drury, who sat up for it and 
was then rewarded for his temerity, these are the ordinary 
hallucinations seen by frightened, half-sleeping persons. No 
particular reliance should be placed upon their evidence* and 
the ‘ghosts’, in any case, are conventional and of no importance. 
All they argue is a condition of nervous receptivity on the part 
of the victim. At this point it must almost be agreed that Air. 
Procter, who also saw the large white cat, larger than a real 
cat and with a long snout, may have had some neutral or 
nervous kink that predisposed him to accept such suggestions 
from his sister-in-law. She suggested the white cat; and he 
agreed that he had seen it ‘going into the engine house and 
disappearing as if it had gone into the fire’. Such would be 
this explanation; but it is disproved by every entry, almost, in 
his diary. We have to consider that Air. Procter, no less than 
his sister-in-law, did see something. 

The cries of ‘Chuck, chuck’; the ‘turkey gobbling’; the 
‘prolonged and peculiar sounds as of whistling or whizzing’; 
the noise of ‘winding up, as of a strong jack’, or ‘a dock’, 
‘the loud creaking of a saw’, ‘the planing of deal boards’, all 
these sounds, which are common to all four cases, must have 
a common or mutual significance. It is impossible not to see, 
in these, the very workings of the machinery. They are the 
tricks, or stock-in-trade, of the Poltergeist* together with the 
throwing of small stones or pebbles, of handfuls of coins, or 
of pieces of crockery, deceits which, in other cases, are traced 
down to the child who is medium, and who, in all probability, 
is detected in the act of hurling these objects. For, being in 
possession of certain remarkable powers, there is not a Polter- 
geist who will not improve upon the position by cheating, and 
by childish imposture. It is for this that they are, in the end, 
discredited; and, once that has happened, their genuine feats 
are forgotten and all is explained away upon the basis of 
charlatanism. There is, though, no doubt whatever that they 
have the power to move about and dislodge objects, and in 
most of the instances in which this has been described the 

109 



EXAMINATION 

trajectory covered by these missiles has this peculiar feature 
to it, that the flight is never straight, the objects always whirl 
and zigzag in the air, as though the control upon them did not 
cease until their flight is finished. They are not picked up and 
thrown by some invisible hand; they are in the power of some 
force that moves them. In the haunting of Willington Mill 
these customary phenomena of the Poltergeist are not present; 
but this is because, as we have already pointed out, this is no 
ordinary case of a Poltergeist. The medium is missing. There 
is no-one upon whom to fasten the guilt. 

The opinion of Mr. Procter upon this matter seems to be 
fairly clear. Those words of his, which break off so suddenly: 
‘An infir m old woman, the mother-in-law of R. Oxon, the 
builder of the premises, lived and died in the house, and after 
her death the haunting was attributed . . .’; this half-finished 
sentence must hold his definition of the cause of so much 
trouble. Or else we have to believe that the whole story is lies 
from beginning to end. If Mr. Procter, a typical Quaker of his 
generation, had this one curious kink of liking to be frightened, 
and of arousing an infectious fear in others during a space of 
twelve years, and for all the most impressionable years of his 
families’ childhood, then, indeed, we have an explanation of 
the entire episode. But such an idea is dispelled by the un- 
pleasant and profitless notoriety which is all he can have 
gained by it. No-one who reads his diary in its bare simplicity, 
and in the plain statement of so many mysterious happenings 
narrated without exaggeration or hysteria, could for a moment 
entertain this easy explanation of the hauntings. There must, 
and there can only have been, something peculiar and in- 
explicable in Willington Mill. If Mr. Procter lied, then the 
Wesley family were liars; and that it would be difficult to 
believe. But the Epworth Rectory case is universally accepted 
as being the work of a Poltergeist; a manifestation of the sub- 
conscious which is an established, if insufficiently studied, 
truth in that world of new discoveries. And, if that is the case, 
then a like amount of indulgence can be asked for on behalf of 
Willing ton Mill 

If Mr. Procter was not, him self, the cause of these disturb- 
ances their origin must be looked for in a mood, or legacy, 

no 



EXAMINATION 

from the past which found itself perpetuated, perhaps, to its 
own displeasure, in the ideal circumstances of this household. 
For a congenial atmosphere is an essential, or the miracles 
cannot work. Everything, in persons and in environment, 
must be in complete harmony. There must be no teetotaller 
at this festival of wine. And the doubters can be the most 
tender and alluring strings in all this music. That animal 
phantasm, to which we have so often referred in the course of 
this narrative, is most easily explained, of course, by hypnotic 
suggestion. But who was the hypnotist? Are we to suppose 
that Mr. Procter summoned it up, out of the depths of his own 
imagination, saw it himself, and handed on the vision to his 
sister-in-law? If so, then it is the same with those peculiar 
whistling sounds. They were also heard by the' nurse in 
another room. Had they some natural explanation? Did they 
not exist at all, but in the infection of one imaginat ion to 
another? Was it, perhaps, Mr. Procter himself, since he was 
so adept at imitating their sounds? But, then, they were heard, 
another day, and imitated, also, by Jon. D. Carr, the brother- 
in-law of Mr. Procter. We must conclude, I think, that their 
sound was indisputably heard; and that Mr. Procter was as 
much the victim of this trick, or imposture, as the children’s 
nurse, or as his brother-in-law. 

Now the phenomena, it will have been noticed, are exactly 
such as would occur to the mind of a child, or of an ignorant 
old woman. There is that night, in particular, upon which 
Jane Carr, Mrs. Procter’s sister, ‘had been poorly, and was 
awake about 4.30 a.m. as well as her companion, when they 
heard footsteps descending from the upper storey which 
passed their door and went down into the kitchen; they 
thought it was the cook and wondered at her being so early. 
They then heard the sound of the kitchen door opening and 
then of the kitchen window being thrown up and die shutters 
opened with more than usual noise. ’ This, if it could have such 
an explanation, is clearly the spite of someone who has suffered 
much from being made to get up at early hours in the morning. 
It is not suggested that any of these things really happened; 
they appeared to happen, and must have been hallucinations, 
or hypnotic effects, produced by the power that was at large 

hi 



EXAMINATION 

in the house. The noise like the winding up of the dock upon 
the landing, this, again, is a joke, or freak, belonging to the 
same order of the imagination. The sound like the throwing 
down of a dothes horse upon the floor; the dragging of boxes 
or pieces of wood upon the ceiling above; the shifting of chairs, 
die dashing down of box lids; the thumping, as of a fist; these 
are playthings of the household gods, or devils, being so much 
a part of the household economy of every human dwelling that 
they could be true of a house in China or Tibet, or of any- 
where, all over the world. These are household hauntings at 
the instigation, it might be thought, of an old infirm woman, 
whose evil fandes were running riot within the house. In the 
theory of such things being a possibility, once, it may be, 
among many hundreds of millions of opportunities, it is to be 
considered that its tricks would be, of necessity, limited in 
their range and in their application. A person, we might say, 
could imitate a jew’s harp or a banjo, while sitting at the 
piano; but he must not be expected therefore to conjure up 
a vision of the Mona Lisa upon the wall, or to recreate the 
scene between Julius Caesar and Brutus. The possibilities of 
his tricks are limited to what it is possible for him to accom- 
plish. In the same way, with a Poltergeist, the throwing of 
handfuls of stones or pebbles, the knocking and thumping, the 
moving of pieces of crockery, and so forth, are the ordinary 
curriculum beyond which it can only advance upon rare 
occasions and in exceptional circumstances. Hypnotism, or 
mesmerism, are not suggested in the case of a Poltergdst. But, 
at Willington Mill, where there was, apparently, no living 
agent or medium within the house, something in that nature 
must be accepted as possible, unless, once more, we are to 
categorize everything that has to do with this story as lies, and 
nothing but lies. What motive was there, after all, to induce 
such a fabrication of untruth? Their lives must have been 
made nearly unendurable by this perpetual state of emergency, 
this lying awake listening for sounds, this readiness for any- 
thing peculiar and frightenin g to happen. 

Being, now, sufficiently primed with what customary dis- 
turbance, or peculiarities to expect, we come to the earliest, as 
it is, probably, the most famous of our classical instances of 



EXAMINATION 

the Poltergeist. This is the Drummer of Tedworth, or the 
case of Mr. Mompesson. We have reprinted it, entire, from 
Relation I, the enlarged narrative, in Saducismus Triumphatus: 
or, full and plain evidence concerning Witches and Apparitions, 
by Joseph Glanvil, late Chaplain in ordinary to His Majesty, 
(Charles II) and Fellow of the Royal Society (the second 
edition), London, 1682. This narrative has the advantage that 
it is written in the splendid and supple English of the reign of 
Charles II. But, before we resume its story, we would draw the 
reader’s attention to the poem, ‘The Drum’, printed as fore- 
word or introduction to this whole book, for we believe that 
this could not be bettered as an interpretation of our subject in 
all its different manifestations. This is the Poltergeist, and all 
that it conveys of the supernormal or supernatural, expressed, 
or even immortalized in a work of art. The author of this poem 
has herself put forward an explanation of some of its mean- 
ings and the manner of its effects in her notes on her own 
poetry which preface her Selected Poems (London, Duckworth 
& Co., 1936), and we take the liberty of adding to them some 
views of our own in extension of her principles. In an examina- 
tion into the detail of this sinister poem, we can prepare our 
minds for the narrative that is to follow. For the sake of con- 
venience her poem is here reprinted in full, in order to save the 
reader the trouble of turning back the page to where it 
appears in the place of honour at the beginning of this book. 

THE DRUM 

(The Narrative of the Demon of Tedworth) 

In his tall senatorial. 

Black and manorial. 

House where decoy-duck 
Dust doth clack — 

Clatter and quack 
To a shadow black — 

Said the musty Justice Mompesson 
‘ What is that dark stark beating drum 
That we hear rolling like the sea?’ 

‘It is a beggar with a pass 

h 113 S.P. 



EXAMINATION 

Signed by you? * I signed not one. 
They took the ragged drum that we 
Once heard rolling like the sea; 

In the house of the Justice it must lie 
And usher in Eternity. 


Is it black night? 

Black as Hecate howls a star 
Wolfishly , and whined 
The wind from very far. 

In the pomp of the Mompesson house is one 
Candle that lolls like the midnight sun. 

Or the coral comb of a cock; . ..it rocks . . . 
Only the goatish snow's locks 
Watch the candles lit by fright 
One by one through the black night. 

Through the kitchen there runs a hare — 
Whinnying, whines like grass, the air; 

It passes; now is standing there 
A lovely lady — see her eyes — 

Black angels in a heavenly place. 

Her shady locks and her dangerous grace . 

C I thought I saw the wicked old witch in 
The richest gallipot in the kitchen!' 

A lolloping galloping candle confesses. 
c Outside in the passage are wildernesses 
Of darkness rustling like witches' dresses.' 
Outgo the candles one by one 
Hearing the rolling of a Drum! 

What is the march we hear groan 
As the hoofed sound of a drum marched on 
With a pang like darkness, with a clang 
Blacker than an orang-outang? 

* Heliogabalus is alone , — 

Only his bones to play upon!' 

1 14 



EXAMINATION 

The mocking money in the pockets 
Then turned black . . . now caws 
The fire . . . outside, one scratched the door 
As with iron claws , — 

Scratching under the children’s bed 
And up the trembling stairs . . . c Long dead ’ 

Moaned the water black as crape. 

Over the snow the wintry moon 
Limp as henbane, or herb paris. 

Spotted the bare trees; and soon 

Whinnying, neighed the maned blue wind 
Turning the burning milk to snow, 

Whining it shied down the corridor — 

Over the floor I heard it go 

Where the drum rolls up the stairs, nor tarries. 

The author of this poem states in her notes that it belongs 
‘neither to the world of “Facade”, nor to that of “Bucolic 
Comedies”, but to a night-world which lies between!’ Readers 
who know her poems will understand this careful distinction. 
But she continues — and we choose those parts of her explana- 
tion which are most apt to our own purpose — ‘black’, ‘duck 5 , 
‘clack’, ‘clatter’ and ‘quack’, with their hard consonants and 
dead vowels, are dry as dust, and the deadness of dust is 
conveyed thus. ‘By “decoy-duck dust”, she writes, ‘I mean 
very thick dry dust. A duck’s quacking is, to me, one of the 
driest of sounds, and it has a peculiar deadness.’ Such is 
her interpretation of ‘decoy-duck dust doth clack’, a phrase 
which may be said to have become famous. ‘In the lines,’ she 
continues: 

‘ Clatter and quack 
To a shadow black, 

“Clatter”, coming, as it does, immediately after “clack” has 
an odd sound, like that of a challenge thrown down in an 
empty place by one who, having offered it, then shrinks away 
in fear. It is a feet that the second syllable of “clatter”, instead 

ii5 



EXAMINATION 

of casting a shadow, shrinks away into itself and dies . 5 ‘In the 
lines: 

Said the musty Justice Mompesson 
What is that dark stark heating drum ? 


the thick assonances of “musty Justice”, the rhymes “dark 

stark 55 placed so closely together, produce a menacing echo 

In the lines: 

Black as Hecate howls a star 
Wolfishly , and whined 
The wind from very fear 


the small-vowdled, quick three-syllabled word “Hecate” 
makes the line rock up and down. In the next line “wolfishly” 
pretends to balance “Hecate”, but in reality does nothing of lie 
kind. 5 . . . ‘The “is” dimming from “whined” down to “wind” 
are meant to give the impression of a faint breeze. 5 ... ‘In the 
line: 

Or the coral comb of a cock ; it rocks 


the sharp “c 5 s” seem pin-points of light, which leap into a 
sudden flare with the word “comb”. Later on, when we 
come to die lines: 


Through the kitchen there runs a hare. 

Whinnying, whines like grass the air 

the rhythm is given by the assonances “kitchen” and “whinny- 
ing”, rising to the high “i” of “whines”, and by the balance of 
the two-syllabled, three-syllabled, and one-syllabled words; 
and the image was brought to my mind by the fact that thin 
grass tremb ling in the wind seems to resemble in its move- 
ment a high whining or whinnying sound, whilst the dampness 
and coldness of the air on certain winter days resembles the 
dampness and coldness of grass . 5 
‘In: 

A lolloping galloping candle corf esses 

“lolloping” is a queer reversed dissonance of “gallipot” — 
“galloping” is an almost equally crazy assonance; they convey 
the impression of candle flames, blown now backwards, now 
sideways, . . . and the lines following: 

116 



EXAMINATION 

Outside in the passage are wildernesses 
Of darkness rustling like witches’ dresses 

give the softness of the flame that is speaking; then, much 
later, we come to the line: 

The mocking money in the pockets 

where the faint variations in the castanet — thin, elfish, sound, 
seem like pin-points of candlelight, blown by the cold air.’ 

Such a discussion in technical terms, and in the poet’s 
own words, will bring us so much nearer an understanding of 
the apparent difficulties of this poem. In effect, it is the 
seventeenth century in every tale of ghost or Poltergeist, and 
all the trials of the witches, expressed or recreated into a work 
of art. In the space of some fifty to sixty lines the whole sub- 
ject is given, with nothing omitted and much, even, added, 
including those images that form the peculiar genius of the 
poem. The invention of: 

Black as Hecate howled a star 
Wolfishly, and whined 
The wind from very far 

is but one of the many extraordinary flights of imagination 
made apposite by this particular atmosphere. The lines be- 
ginning: 

Through the kitchen there runs a hare — 

are of so general a truth in regard to all these stories that they 
describe, as well, the haunting of Epworth Rectory. We can- 
not but remember those words: ‘After 9, Robert Brown — the 
servant — sitting alone by the fire in the back kitchen some- 
thing came out of the copper hole like a rabbit, but less, and 
turned round five times, very swiftly. Its ears lay flat upon 
its neck, and its litde scut stood straight up.’ 

The mocking money in the pockets 
Then turned black . . . now caws 
The fire . . . outside, one scratched the door 
As with iron claws — 


is remarkable for the reason that everything in these four 

117 



EXAMINATION 

lines comes from the actual narrative, except the invention 
of: ‘now caws the fire . . which is an inspired image that 
exactly fits the context. 

. . .‘Long dead’ 

Moaned the water black as crape, 

is yet another conception coming straight from that night- 
world which it describes. The last five lines: 

Whinnying, whined the maned blue wind 
Turning the burning milk to snow. 

Whining it shied dozen the corridor — 

Over the floor I heard it go 

Where the drum rolls up the stairs, nor tarries 

change the wind, in metamorphosis, into a rough, young 
animal, but ‘blue maned’ and, therefore, of magical beauty. It 
describes its noises in the corridor: 

Outside in the passage are zoildemesses 
Of darkness rustling like witches’ dresses, 

and die dying away of the haunted drumming, ending uncer- 
tain, as though it might begin once more. It is to be remarked 
about The Drum that certain of its features are not strictly 
accurate to the narrative. Mr. Mompesson, for instance, does 
not seem to have been a magistrate. He may have been a 
Justice of the Peace, but would not, then, be Mr. Justice 
Mompesson. Again, the hare that ran through the kitchen did 
not become: 

A lovely lady ...see her eyes — 

Black angels in a heavenly place, 

Her shady locks and her dangerous grace. 

But such inventions are so close to the idiom of the piece that 
they have become part of it, and may even be warranted by the 
actual circumstances. ‘The idle dr umm er’, ‘who had been a 
soldier under Cromwel’ (sic), can be easily excused this con- 
fusion of tides. Other episodes in the poem, for the images 
assume the importance and reality of factual happenings, are so 
dose in their implication to the story that they may be said to 

118 



EXAMINATION 

be, surely, under the control of that influence. Except that 
the extreme subtlety and force of this creative intelligence has 
dragged over the narrative into her own domain or territory. 
Once the poem has been read, the Drummer of Tedworth 
and his haunted drum are in her custody, or have been made 
free of the world of her imagination. 

In our commentary upon the actual story we must draw 
attention, too, to the words and phrases used, for these, as in 
the haunting of Epworth Rectory, could scarcely be improved 
upon. ‘My man heard someone come slaring through the 
garret to his chamber, rattling by his side as if against his 
shoes, though he had none there, at other times walking up 
and down stairs, when all the house were in bed, and gobbling 
like a turkeycock.’ In the Drummer of Tedworth we read, 
soon after Air. Mompesson had taken away the ‘idle fellow’s 
drum’, and it had been brought into his house, that: ‘the sign 
of it just before it came was, they still heard an hurlin g in the 
air over the House, and at its going off, the beating of a Drum 
like that at the breaking up of a Guard’ . . . ‘Mrs. Mompesson, 
being brought to bed, there was but little noise the night she 
was in Travail, nor any for three weeks after, till she had re- 
covered strength. But after this civil cessation, it returned in a 
ruder manner than before, and followed and vexed the younger 
children, beating their Bedsteds with such violence that all 
present expected when they would fall in pieces. . . . For an 
hour together it would beat. Round-heads and Cuckolds , the 
Tat-too, and several other points of War, as well as any drum- 
mer. After this they should hear a scratching under die chil- 
dren’s bed, as if by something that had Iron Tallons. . . .’ 
‘That morning it left a sulphurous smell behind it which was 
very offensive. . . .’ ‘At the same time a Bedstaff was thrown 
at the Minister, which hit him on the Leg, but so favourably 
that a Lock of Wool could not have fallen more softly, and it 
was observed, that it stopt just where it lighted, without roll- 
ing or moving from the place.’ 

All, indeed, is proceeding in this story according to the 
accepted pattern of these things. So often in tales of Polter- 
geists, observers are hit softly by flying objects. The missiles 
even appear to travel more slowly than could normally be the 

1x9 



EXAMINATION 

case. They have, moreover, a curving flight, not moving in 
straight lines, and when picked up in the hand are often too 
hot to be held, and have to be dropped. But we continue with 
the tapping of the Drum. ‘It was observed that it would exactly 
answer in Drumming any thing that was beaten or called for.’ 
An exact parallel, in fact, to the happenings, sixty years later, 
at Epworth Rectory. And, as the narrative goes on, the Polter- 
geist becomes both more supernatural and more human. 
‘After this it desisted from the ruder noises, and employed 
itself in little Apish and less troublesome tricks. . . ‘The night 
after Ch ristmas Day it threw the old Gentlewoman’s doaths 
about the Room, and hid her Bible in the Ashes. In such silly 
tricks it was frequent.’ Here, though, is a characteristic in- 
stance of its knocking. ‘During the time of the knocking, when 
many were present, a Gentleman of the Company said, Satan, 
if the Drummer set thee to work, give three knocks and no 
more, which it did very distinctly and stopt. Then the Gentle- 
man knockt, to see if it would answer him, as it was wont, but 
it did not. For further trial, he bid it for confirmation, if it 
were the Drummer, to give five knocks and no more that 
night, which it did, and left the House quiet all the night after. 
This was done in the presence of Sir Thomas Chamberlaine 
of Oxfordshire, and divers others.’ 

The Demon is now in full tide of activity. ‘On Saturday 
morning, a hour before day, Jan. io, a Drum was heard beat 
upon the outsides of Mr. Mompesson’s Chamber, from 
whence it went to the other end of the House, where some 
Gentlemen strangers lay, playing at their door and without, 
four or five several Tunes, and so went off into the air.’ . . . 
And then a typically bucolic, or apish trick: ‘The next night, a 
Smith in the village lying with John the Man, they heard a 
noise in the room, as if one had been shoeing of an Horse, and 
somewhat came, as if it were with a pair of Pincers, snipping 
at the Smith’s nose most part of the night.’ At this time, too, it 
performed some extraordinary tricks in the stables. ‘Mr. Mom- 
pesson, coming one morning into his stable, found his horse 
on the ground, having one of his hinder legs in his mouth, and 
so fastened there that it was difficult for several men with a 
leaver to get it out.’ 


120 



EXAMINATION 

Later, comes a little episode reminiscent of the haunting of 
Cashen’s Gap. ‘One morning Mr. Mompesson rising early to 
go a journey, heard a great noise below, where the children 
lay, and running down with a Pistol in his hand, he heard a 
voice* crying A witch, A witch, as they had also heard it once ' 
before. Upon his entrance all was quiet.’ Mr. Mompesson, at 
this time, can not have been enjoying any rest or peace of mind. 
It was ‘at him’, or ‘after him’, the whole time, night and day. 
‘Having one night played some little tricks at Mr. Mom- 
pesson’s Beds feet, it went into another Bed, where one of his 

daughters lay The night after it came panting like a dog 

out of breath. . . . And company coming up, the room was 
presently filled with a bloomy noisome smell, and was very 
hot though without fire, in a very sharp and severe winter. 
It continued in die Bed panting and scratching an hour and a 
half, and then went into the next Chamber, where it knockt a 
litde, and seemed to rattle a Chain; this it did for two or three 
nights together. . . . After this the old Gentlewoman’s Bible 
was found in the Ashes, the Paper side being downwards. Mr. 
Mompesson took it up, and observed that it lay open at the 
third Chapter of St. Mark, where there is mention of the 
unclean spirits falling down before our Saviour, and of his 
giving power to the Twelve to cast out Devils, and of die 
Scribes opinion, that he cast them out through Beelzebub .’ 1 
This, also, is paralleled in the haunting of Cashen’s Gap, 
where the mongoose, to whom we feel tempted in the spirit of 
Mr. Glanvil, the narrator, to give the honour of a capital letter 
before its name, would give out chapter and verse or direct 
where certain things would be found written in a book or 
newspaper. 

At this point in the story, the narrator himself arrived at 
Mr. Mompessons’ house. ‘At this time it used to haunt the 
Children, and that as soon as they were laid. They went to 
Bed that night I was there, about Eight of the clock, when a 
Maid-servant coming down from them, told us it was come. 
Mr. Mompesson and I, and a Gentleman that came with me, 
went up. I heard a strange scratching as I went up the Stairs, 

1 Compare this with the tableau scene in the house of Dr. Eliakim 
Phelps. 


121 



EXAMINATION 

and when we came into the Room, I perceived it was just be- 
hind the bolster of the Children’s Bed, and seemed to be 
against the Tick. It was as loud a scratching as one with long 
Nails could make upon a bolster ... I had been told that it 
would imitate noises, and made trial by scratching several 
times upon the Sheet, as 5, and 7, and 10, which it followed 
and still stopt at my number. . . . After it had scratched half 
an hour or more, it went into the midst of the Bed under the 
childr en, and there seemed to pant like a dog out of breath 
very loudly. . . . The motion caused by this panting was so 
strong, that it shook the Room and Windows very sensibly. . . . 
During the panting I chanced to see as it had been something 
(which I thought was a Rat or Mouse) moving in a Linnen 
Bag, that hung up against another Bed that was in the room. 
I slept and caught it by the upper end with one Hand, with 
which I held it, and drew it through the other, but found 
nothing at all in it. There was nobody near to shake the bag, 
or if there had, no one could have made such a motion, which 
seemed to be from within, as if a Living Creature had moved 
in it.’ This incident, again, comes straight, as it were, from 
Cashen’s Gap. 1 Had it happened there, the visitor would have 
been told that it was indeed ‘Jeff’, the talking mongoose, 
whom he had caught a sight of in the ‘Linnen Bag’. No-one 
who went to that lonely farmhouse had ever more than this 
fleeting sight of the little animal, to whom so many curious 
actions were ascribed by those whom the mongoose always 
referred to as ‘his family’. 

As to the Drummer, who plays so malevolent but evasive a 
part in this story, we are told the following. ‘The Drummer 
was tryed at the Assizes at Salisbury upon this occasion. He 
was committed first to Gloucester Gaol for stealing, and a 
Wiltshire man coming to see him, he askt what news in Wilt- 
shire. The visitant said, he knew of none. No, saith the Drum- 
mer! Do not you hear of the Drumming at a Gentleman’s 
House at Tedworth? That I do enough, said the other. I, 
quoth the Drummer, I have plagued him (or to that purpose) 
and he shall never be quiet, till he hath made me satisfaction 
for taking away my Drum. Upon information of this, the 

1 Or from Stratford, Connecticut, the home of Dr. Eliak im Phelps. 

122 



EXAMINATION 

fellow was tryed for a Witch at Sarum, and all the main cir- 
cumstances I have related were sworn at the Assizes by the 
Mi nis ter of the Parish, and divers others of die most intelli- 
gent and substantial Inhabitants, who had been eye and ear 
witnesses of them, time after time, for divers years together. 

‘The fellow was condemned to Transportation, and accord- 
ingly sent away; but I know not how (’tis said by r aising storms 
and affrighting the Seamen) he made a shift to come back 
again. And ’tis observable that, during all the time of his 
restraint and absence the house was quiet, but as soon as 
ever he came back at liberty, the disturbance returned. 

‘He had been a soldier under Cromwd [sic], and used to 
talk much of Gallant Books he had of an odd fellow, who was 
counted a Wizzard.’ 

It does not appear that search has ever been made for more 
details in the records of Old Sarum, which, presumably, must 
still exist. The story, then, rests mostly upon the narrative of 
Mr. Joseph Glanvil, as here reprinted. 

The name of the ‘idle drummer’ was William Drury. He had 
been tried for stealing in 1662, was sentenced to transporta- 
tion, and had escaped from a boat, or barge, in April 1663. 
It sounds, therefore, as if this escape took place in England, 
while he was being conveyed to the port of embarkation for 
Trinidad, or Barbados. In prison he heard of these disturb- 
ances and, having a grudge against Mr. Mompesson, accused 
himself of being their author. He then came back to his 
village, Uscut, in Wiltshire, where Mr. Mompesson had him 
arrested for witchcraft; the Grand Jury found a true bill 
against him, but he was acquitted by the Petty Jury, and this 
is the last we hear of him. 1 The disturbances at Tedworth 
began in April 1661, and finished two years later, in April 

1 There is some variance in the details . According to other accounts, 
William Drury of Uscut, a tailor, was taken for stealing pigs in March, 
1663. He escaped from a barge, on n April, within a mile of Newn- 
ham, near Awre, while the bargemen were sleeping. He reached 
Malmesbury, on Monday, 13 April. He then went to Uscut and 
bought a drum from Mr. Farler, who had before supplied him, and 
beat it at Uscut. This would seem to have been an act of effrontery 
upon his part. The following day he was seized by Mr. Mompesson 
on a charge of witchcraft, was acquitted of this, but transported to 
Virginia for stealing pigs. No more is heard of him. 

I23 



EXAMINATION 

1663. So great was the commotion caused by them that King 
Charles sent down Lord Falmouth to report to him upon them. 
The Queen, at the same tune, sent Lord Chesterfield for this 
purpose, but no important phenomena were witnessed by the 
courtiers, and they went bade to London in a sceptical mood. 
There is, however, such a weight of irrefutable evidence that 
it is certain that most curious phenomena were taking place, 
though, in spite of its prima facie probability, it is not by any 
means certain that it was the Dr umm er who caused these 
things to happen. We would say it was, more probably, the 
elder or both of ‘the two little modest girls in the bed, between 
seven and eleven years old as I guess’, who, having been told 
this story of the confiscation of the drum by their father built 
up their chain of psychical disturbances around this core of 
fact. 

The other Relations in Saducismus Triumphatus are, 
unfortunately, of much less interest. They are twenty-eight 
in number, with a few more added in a Continuation. It is, 
however, irresistible to mention, at least, the case of the witch- 
craft of Elizabeth Style, of Stoke Trister in the County of 
Somerset, for here again the language used by Glanvil is of 
high dramatic value to his narrative. 1 It is the third of Glan- 
vil’s Relations. ‘Her confession was free and unforced, with- 
out any torturing or watching, drawn from her by a gentle 
examination, meeting with the convictions of a guilty con- 
science. . . . She confesseth further. That the Devil useth to 
suck her in the Poll, about four a Clock in the Morning, in the 
form of a fly like a Millar, concernin g which, let us bear 
Testimony. 

‘Nicholas Lambert Examined again Jan. 26. 1664, before 
Rob. Hunt Esqre.; concerning what happened after Style’s 
confession, testifyeth That Eliz. Style having been examined 
before the Justice, made her Confession, and Committed to the 
officer, the Justice required this examinant, William Thick and 
William Read of Bayford, to watch her, which they did; and 
this Informant sitting near Style by the Fire, and reading in the 
Practice of Piety about Three of the Clock in the Morning, 

1 This case, also, has been made the subject of a poem by the hand 
that wrote The Drum. 


124 



EXAMINATION 

there came from her head a glittering bright fly, about an inch 
in length, which pitched at first in the chimney, and that 
vanished. In less than a quarter of an hour after, there ap- 
peared two flies more of a less size and another colour which 
seemed to strike at the examinant’s hand, in which he held his 
book, but missed it, the one going over, the other under at the 
same time. He looking stedfastly then on Style, perceived her 
countenance to change, and to become very black and gasdy, 
the Fire also at the same time changing its colour; whereupon 
the Examinant, Thick and Read conceiving that her F amiliar 
was then about her, looked to her Poll, and seeing her Hair 
shake very strangely, took it up, and then a Fly like a great 
Millar flew out from the place, and pitched on the Table- 
board, and then vanished away. Upon this the Examinant, and 
the other two persons looking again in Style’s Poll, found it 
very red and like raw beef. The Examinant askt her what it 
was that went out of her Poll, she said that it was a Butterfly, 
and askt them why they had not caught it. Lambert said, they 
could not. I think so too, answered she. A little while after, the 
Informant and the others looking again into her Poll, found 
the place to be of its former colour. The Examinant demanding 
again what the Fly was, she confessed it was her Familiar, and 
that she felt it tickle in her Poll, and that was the usual time 
when her Familiar came to her.’ 

This particular witch, Elizabeth Style, had the good for- 
tune to die in prison before worse befell her. In Glanvil’s 
words: ‘But she prevented Execution by dying in Gaol, a little 
before the expiring of the term her confederate Daemon had 
set for her enjoyment of Diabolical pleasures in this life.’ And 
the book carries on for two hundred pages, and more, with 
accounts of various extraordinary cases of hauntings and 
witchcrafts. The very next case, Relation IV, gives the exami- 
nation and confession of Alice Duke, alias Manning, the 
Witch of Wincanton in Somerset, in 1644. ‘She saith that 
after their meetings, they all make very low obeysances to the 
Devil who appears in black Clothes and a little Band. He bids 
than welcome at their coming ... to a green place near 
Mamhull, as she was then told ... or in Lie Common . . . and 
brings Wine, Beer, Cakes, Meat, or the like. He sits at the 

125 



EXAMINATION 

higher end and usually Ann Bishop sits next to him, (who was 
there in a green Apron, or French wastcoat and a red Petti- 
coat). They eat, drink, dance, and have Musick. At their part- 
ing they use to say. Merry meet merry part, and that before they 
are carried to their meetings, their Foreheads are anointed with 
greenish oyl that they have from the spirit which smells raw. 
They for the most part are carried in the Air . 1 As they pass, 
they say, Thout, tout a tout, tout, throughout and about. Passing 
back they say, Rentum Tormentum, and another word which 
she doth not remember.’ But we must trespass no further into 
the pages of Saducismus Triumphatus, for its Relations are 
concerned mainly with cases of Witchcraft, though these are 
near, necessarily, in some of their detail, to the tricks of the 
Poltergeist. 

The fourth of our classical cases of the Poltergeist has some 
points of similarity with the haunting of Willington Mill. 
As a narrative, or assessing it for its dramatic value, it has 
these advantages that the history of the persons concerned is 
romantic and that the mere untangling of their relationships 
in books of extinct peerage is a pursuit that calls for ingenuity, 
and for the detective sense strongly developed. Also some 
parts of the story are told in the words of one of the most 
famous of our sea captains, Earl St. Vincent, a character of 
known veracity, to whose word full confidence should be 
attached. The house in which the hauntings took place was 

1 This refers, of course, to the celebrated ‘flying ointment* with 
which the witches rubbed themselves before going to the Sabbath. 
Several recipes for this ointment have been preserved and doctors, to 
whom these have been submitted, have agreed that certain sub- 
stances would give the sensation of flying, cf. Miss Margaret Murray, 
The Witch Cult in Northern Europe, 1926, pp. 93-4. 

Professor A. J. Clark has reported on three of these recipes and 
shows that aconite and belladonna are among the ingredients; aconite 
produces irregular action of the heart and belladonna causes delirium. 
‘Irregular action of the heart in a person falling asleep produces the 
well-known sensation of suddenly falling through space; and it seems 
quite possible that the combination of a delirifadent, like bella- 
donna, with a drug producing irregular action of the heart, like 
aconite, might produce the sensation of flying.’ ‘It seems therefore,’ 
Miss Margaret Murray concludes, ‘that it was immaterial whether 
the [broom]stick or the rider were anointed; sooner or later the 
sensation of flying would be felt and the rider would be convinced 
that she had flown through the air.’ 

126 



EXAMINATION 

Hinton Ampner, in Hampshire. We are allowed to reprint the 
narrative from the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 
for April 1893. 1 It took the form of an old pamphlet^ com- 
municated to the Society by the Marquess of Bute, who added 
his criticisms and his notes as to the persons concerned. They 
are mentioned by him under fictitious initials, with only a 
clue, here and there, by which to discover their identities. 
The circumstances in the case were that Mrs. Ricketts, the 
sister of Lord St. Vincent, in the absence of her husband in 
Jamaica, took a lease of the house for the sake of her three 
children. It is unnecessary for us to impede this part of our 
remarks with suggestions as to the identity of the persons 
mentioned, and we reserve that information for the actual 
narrative, where it will be found in footnotes. We, therefore, 
in this place, only resume the important points, drawing 
attention to salient or characteristic details in the story. 

In the first place we must note the noises of explosions that 
were heard, ‘sometimes as loud as the bursting of cannon’. 
Compare with this the hauntings at Tackley, in Oxfordshire 
(A Disturbed House and its Relief , by Ada M. Sharpe, 1905), 
where tremendous explosive sounds were heard in the house, 
‘like bombs’, and in another case on record, the ‘loud ex- 
plosive sounds’ which ‘shook the house’, reported in the home 
of Mile. d’Ourches, sister of Comte d’Ourches, at Poitiers 
(cf. Report on Spiritualism of the Committee of the London 
Dialectical Society)? Later, in a letter from her steward, 
Robert Camis to Mrs. Ricketts, we read: ‘I have heard no 
noise myself, but on Saturday about eleven a clock my Mother 
went home to make her bed, and left sister Martha in the 
chicking att work with her needle. She heard a noise like a 
roleing dap of thunder; it did not surprise her because she 
thought it was thunder, for it gered the windows. . . . The 
noise appeared to be towards the yallow room. Itt seemed to roll 
along, which made her think itt was thunder.’ Mrs. Ricketts 

1 The original letters were, also, edited and published by Mrs. 
Henley Jervis, granddaughter of Mrs. Ricketts, in The Gentlemen’s 
Magazine for November and December 1872. 

8 There were explosions like bombs, and continual ringing of bells, 
at Owatonna, Minnesota, in 1880, in the house of Mr. Dimant, cf. 
Religio-Philosophical Journal for December 25th of that year. 

127 



EXAMINATION 

says: ‘In the beginning of the year 1771, I was frequently 
sensible of a hollow murmuring that seemed to possess the 
whole house; it was independent of wind, being equally heard 
on the calmest nights, and it was a sound I had never been 
accustomed to hear. ... I stood in the middle of the room, 
pondering with much astonishment, when suddenly the door 
that opens into the little recess leading to the yellow apartment 
sounded as if played to and fro by a person stan ding behind it. 
This was more than I could bear unmoved. . . . Half an hour 
afterwards I heard three distinct knocks, as described before; 
they seemed below, but I could not then or ever after ascertain 
the place. The next night I lay in my own room: I now and 

then heard noises, and frequently the hollow murmur On 

the 7 May this murmur was uncommonly loud. I could not 
sleep, apprehending it the prelude to some greater noise. I got 
up and went to the nursery, stayed there till an half past three, 
and then, being daybreak, I thought I should get some sleep 
in my own apartment; I returned and lay till ten minutes be- 
fore four, and then the great hall door directly under me was 
slapped to with the utmost violence, so as to shake my room 
perceivably. I jumped out of bed to the window that com- 
mands the porch. There was light to distinguish every object, 
but none to be seen that could account for what I had heard. . . . 
From this time I determined to have my woman lie in a little 
bed in my room. The noises grew more frequent, and she was 
always sensible of the same sounds, and much in the same 
direction that they struck me. . . . After Midsummer the noises 
became every night more intolerable. They began before I 
went to bed, and with intermissions were heard till after broad 
day in the mornin g . I could frequently distinguish articulate 
sounds, and usually a shrill female voice would begin, and 
then two others with deeper and manlike tones seemed to join 
in the discourse, yet, though this conversation sounded as if 
dose to me, I could never distinguish words. I have often 
asked Elizabeth Godin [her maid] if she heard any noise and 
of what sort. She, as often, described the seeming conversa- 
tion in the manner I have related, and other noises. One night 
in particular my bed curtains rustled, and sounded as if 
dragged by a person walking against them. I then asked her if 

128 



EXAMINATION 

she heard any noise, and of what kind. She spoke of it exactly 
in the manner I have done. Several times I heard sounds of 
harmony within the room— no distinct or regular notes, but a 
vibration of harmonious tones; walking, talking, knocking, 
opening and slapping of doors were repeated every night.’ 
Lord St. Vincent (her brother) then came to stay with Mrs. 
Ricketts. ‘The morning after he left me to return to Ports- 
mouth,’ she continues, ‘about three o’clock and daylight^ 
Elizabeth Godin and myself both awake — she had been sitting 
up in bed looking round her, expecting as she always did to 
see some thing terrible, I heard with infinite astonishment the 
most loud, deep, tremendous noise, which seemed to rush 
and fall with infinite velocity and force on the lobby floor 
adjoining to my room. I started up, and called to Godin, 
“Good God! did you hear that noise?” She made no reply; 
on repeating the question, she answered with a faltering 
voice: “She was so frightened she scarce durst speak.” Just 
at that instant we heard a shrill and dreadful shriek, seeming 
to proceed from under the spot where the rushing noise fell, 
and repeated three or four times, growing fainter as it seemed 
to descend, till it sank into earth. Hannah Streeter, who lay in 
the room with my children, heard the same noises, and was so 
appalled she lay for two hours almost deprived of sense and 
motion. Having heard litde of the noises preceding, and that 
little she did not regard, she had rashly expressed a wish to 
hear more of them, and from that night till she quitted the 
house there was scarce a night passed that she did not hear the 
sound as if some person walked towards her door, and pushed 
against it, as though attempting to force it open.’ 

When Lord St. Vincent came to stay ... ‘I heard my 
brother’s bell ring with great quickness. I ran to his room, and 
he asked me if I had heard any noise, “because”, said he, “as 
I was lying wide awake an imm ense weight seemed to fell 
through the ceiling to the floor just by that mahogany press, 
and it is impossible I should be deceived”.’ 

The narrative contains the curious account, too, of when 
‘Mr. George Ricketts and Mr. Poyntz Ricketts, active young 
men in the p rim e of life, were walking to and fro dose to # 
the house on the paddock side, when a great noise was heard 

129 s . p . 


I 



EXAMINATION 

within it, upon which one of them said: “They are at their 
tricks again, let us go in and see. ” ’ The house, at that time, was 
unoccupied and, of course, on entering it, they found nothing 
disturbed or out of place. 

At a later point, Martha H. G. Jervis, the elder grand- 
daughter of Airs. Ricketts, went to see the old servant, Lucy 
Camis, at her farm near by. This was fifty years later, under the 
date July io, 1818. Lucy Camis had been, the year before this 
to see Hannah Streeter (the old nurse): ‘and asked if she re- 
membered having been disturbed by the noises, particularly 
one night when the other servants were gone to bed, when, 
being in the servant’s hall, they heard a sound as of the great 
iron brazier falling through the roof of the pantry (over which 
there was no room), and that it went “Twirl! twirl! twirl” till 
it sank into the ground. They were so much terrified that Lucy 
would not venture up to the garrets, but slept that night in the 
nursery. They found the brazier, the next morning, in the 
place where it had been left.’ 

It may be objected that this case is more of a haunting than 
of a Poltergeist. There is, for instance, no stone-throwing, 
and litde or no rapping or hammering. The obscene forces 
were not at play. At the same time, the disturbances, and we 
are forced to the conclusion that they were genuine, were of so 
tremendous a nature that some power or volition was certainly 
at work within the house. If we read on into the narrative, the 
suggestion of Lord Bute, on the evidence of old Lucy Camis, 
given fifty years after the events, is to the effect that some 
dark mystery had taken place in the house, concerned with the 
birth of an illegitimate child, the mother being the younger 
sister of Edward Stawell. In leaving this case, we would draw 
attention again to that tremendous sound, to which there was a 
parallel in the haunting of Epworth Rectory, for the account 
of it, read in suitable circumstances, never foils to remind the 
writer of the directions given by Hector Berlioz, in his Grande 
Traiti de Vlnstrumentation, for the full use of die ‘batterie de 
cuivres’. That greatest of all masters of orchestration would 
have used that sound, we cannot doubt, for his Grande Messe 
des Marts, or in his ‘Funeral March for the last scene of 
Hamlet’. But the most alarming feature of these great noises, 

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EXAMINATION 

in many of these cases, is that they are not audible to all. No- 
thing has fallen, or been moved. It is an auditory hallucination. 

This story of Mrs. Ricketts, the fourth of our classical cases 
of the Poltergeist, we follow with other instances reported at 
less length, but which are no less curious. Next to it, because 
there are points of similarity, we put the tale told by Monsieur 
Camille Hammarion, the famous astronomer, in his Haunted 
Houses. Or, at least, it is reported by him in the words of those 
to whom it happened, in 1867. The story in question is the 
haunted castle in Calvados, and our comments upon this case 
must take note of the following details. This would seem to be, 
as with the house of Mrs. Ricketts, a case of some mysterious 
force out of the past. Something sinister and tremendous had 
once happened in the castle, and its activities would seem to be 
directed to draw attention to itself, as though it had, definitely, 
the desire to get into communication with the occupants. Most 
of all, it will be noted, it haunted the Abbe. The haunting took 
the form of loud and thunderous knocking; the whole castle 
reverberated with the sounds. We read of twenty or thirty loud 
and appalling raps delivered mysteriously, as though with a 
heavy hammer, or iron bar. ‘At 2 a.m. some being rushed up 
the stairs from the entrance hall to the first floor, along the 
passage and up to the second floor, with a loud noise of tread 
which had nothing human about it. Everybody heard it. It 
was like two legs deprived of their feet and walking on the 
stumps. Then we heard numerous loud blows on the stairs 
and on the door of the green room.’ For some reason, it would 
seem to be a mistake in a haunted house to call a room ‘the 
green room’. We have seen how significant a part was played 
by the green or ‘yallow’ room at Hinton Ampner. 

At another time, the noises in this haunted castle are de- 
scribed, variously, as being like the sound of a heavy stick 
banged on its point and progressing by that means along the 
passages and down the stairs, and as though a heavy ball were 
bounced from step to step, and foot by foot, along the corri- 
dors. 1 There was that night, of 10 November, when an 
appalling thunderstorm broke out, and ‘at this moment every- 

1 This sound, as of a ball being bounced, step by step, has been 
noticed in other Poltergeist disturbances. 

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EXAMINATION 

body heard something like a cry, or a long drawn trumpet call, 
audible above the storm. It seemed to me to come from out- 
side.’ Knowing what we know, it is, too, no surprise to us to 
read of the Abbe that ‘he then heard in a comer of the room a 
noise as of the winding of a big clock’. The usual tricks were 
played upon the Abbe. His papers and books were strewn 
about the room and, upon one occasion, a whole row of books 
was removed from a shelf and thrown in confusion upon the 
floor, only excepting a Bible, a hint, perhaps, that the spirit 
had need of that in order to quiet it, or merely from respect and 
out of deference. What are we to think of that haunted castle 
in Calvados! I believe we must agree, all allowances being 
made for exaggeration, that something very peculiar was on 
foot, was, in fact, literally on foot and treading noisily about 
the house, because it could not help it, or because it wanted to 
draw attention to itself. 

This haunting is capped, so to speak, by the stories told by 
Mrs. Catherine Crowe in her book. The Night Side of Nature, 
from which we reprint Chapter XVI, ‘The Poltergeist of the 
Germans, and Possession’. It begins with a typical instance, 
the Stockwdl Ghost of 1772. The Poltergeist in this case was 
centred in the person of Ann Robinson, a young maid of 
twenty. The story is almost exacdy similar to the Poltergeists 
of Worksop and of Wem, both of which are included in this 
book. ‘On Monday, January 6th, 1772, about ten o’clock in the 
forenoon, as Mrs. Golding was in her parlour, she heard the 
china and glasses in the back kitchen tumble down and break; 
her maid came to her and told her the stone plates were falling 
from the shelf; Mrs. Golding went into the kitchen and saw 
them broke. Presently after a row of plates from the next shelf 
fell down likewise, whilst she was there, and nobody near them; 
this astonished her much, and while she was thinking about 
it, other things in different places began to tumble about, some 
of them breaking, attended with violent noises all over the 
house. . . .’ Later, ‘about eight o’clock in the evening a fresh 
scene began; the first thing that happened, was a whole row of 
pewter dishes, except one, fell from off a shelf to the middle of 
the floor, rolled about a little while, then settled; and, what is 
almost beyond belief, as soon as they were quiet, turned up- 

132 



Examination 

side down; they were then put on the dresser, and went 
through the same a second time; next fell a whole row of 
pewter plates from off the second shelf over the dresser to the 
ground, and being taken up and put on the dresser one in 
another, they were thrown down again.’ Next, the comic or 
impish touch: ‘Two eggs that were upon one of the pewter 
shelves; one of them flew off, crossed the kitchen, struck a cat 
on the head and then broke in pieces. . . . The glasses and 
china were put down on the floor for fear of undergoing the 
same fate; they presently began to dance and tumble about, 
and then broke to pieces ... a glass tumbler that was put on 
the floor, jumped about two feet and then broke. Another 
that stood by it jumped about at the same time, but did not 
break till some hours after, when it jumped again, and then 
broke. — At all the times of action, Mrs. Golding’s servant’ 
(like Emma, the nursemaid, in the case at Wem 1 ) ‘was walk- 
ing backwards and forwards, . . . nor could they get her to sit 
down five minutes together ... in the midst of the greatest 
confusion, she was as much composed as at any other time, 
and with uncommon coolness of temper adviced her mistress 
not to be alarmed or uneasy, as she said these things could not 
be helped. ... A pail of water that stood on the floor boiled 
like a pot.’ (This occurs, too, in the Great Amherst Mystery. 2 ) 
The end of the story is as might be expected. Anna Robinson 
was discharged and no more disturbances occurred. 

Mrs. Crowe, after this, gives us the story of the home of 
Mr. Williams in the Moscow Road, Bayswater, likewise in 
1772. The control, here, was a little Spanish girl, between ten 
and eleven years of age. Among northern races, we would add, 
they are generally older than that, for the age of puberty comes 
later. ‘A pewter teapot was seen to hop about as if bewitched, 
and was actually held down while the tea was being made for 
Mr. Williams’ breakfast, before leaving for his place of busi- 
ness. Candlesticks after a dance on the table, flew off . . . and 
bonnets and cap boxes, flung about in the oddest manner.’ 
Reviewing rapidly other cases from this chapter in The Night 
Side of Nature we note the well-known story of Angelique 
Cottin, in 1846. ‘Persons who were near her, even without 
1 Compare p. 412. : Compare p. 375. 


133 



EXAMINATION 

contact, frequently felt electric shocks Anything touched 

by her apron or dress would fly off, although a person held it.’ 
This girl was fourteen years old. A little later we come to the 
story of the Poltergeist at Rambouillet, in 1846. ‘One morning, 
some travelling merchants, or pedlars, came to the door of a 
farm house and asked for some bread, which the maid- 
servant gave them and they went away. Subsequently one of 
the party returned to ask for more, and was refused. The man, 
I believe, expressed some resentment and uttered vague 
threats, but she would not give him anything, and he departed. 
That night, at supper, the plates began to dance and to roll off 
the table, without any visible cause, and several other un- 
accountable phenomena occurred; and the girl going to the 
door and chancing to place herself just where the pedlar had 
stood, she was seized with convulsions and an extraordinary 
rotatory motion.’ This resembles, in its be ginning s, the 
Drummer of Tedworth. It is a hysterical power bestowed as a 
curse. I have, at another page of this present book, suggested 
that it was the report of the cursings of the Drummer, William 
Drury, that inspired the two litde girls of Mr. Mompesson to 
become possessed of these invisible faculties and powers. 

Mrs. Crowe gives us, also, the amusing story — if not to 
the person most directly concerned — of Professor Schuppart 
of Giessen, in Upper Hesse, who was persecuted by having 
his face incessantly slapped. ‘He was persecuted with slaps on 
the face by day and by night, so that he could get no rest; and 
when two persons were appointed by the authority to set by 
his bed to watch him, they got the slaps also.’ ‘It is very remark- 
able,’ as Mrs. Crowe remarks, ‘that the only thing that seemed 
available as a protection, was a drawn sword brandished over 
his head by himself, or by others,’ which was one of the singu- 
larities attending the case of the Drummer of Tedworth. 
And this brings us with smaller interruptions to Councillor 
Hahn, a true story, or so we must presume, that is worthy of 
Hoffmann. It would be a shame to spoil this by complete 
quotation; so that we content ourselves with all that is neces- 
sary to our purpose. ‘They resolved to return to the lower 
room’ (having suffered too much from the Poltergeist in the 
room above), ‘and have their beds brought back again; but the 

134 



EXAMINATION 

people who were sent to fetch them returned, declaring they 
could not open the door, although it did not appear to be 
fastened. Thai Hahn went himself, and opened it with the 
greatest ease. The four servants, however, solemnly declared 
that all their united strengths could make no impression on it.’ 
These effects occurred in the Parc du Mystere at Coimbra, in 
1919, mentioned by us at another page (cf. p. 149). There, it 
was more particularly windows, than doors. This is the same 
sort of trick, too, that we find where it is a question of noises. 
They are not heard by all. Some persons do not hear them. Of 
this there are several instances, and it happened, although 
Mrs. Ricketts does not stress the point, at Hinton Ampner. 
A second point of interest in the Hahn narrative is when ‘there 
were lights in the room, and presently all three saw two nap- 
kins in the middle of the room, rise slowly up to the ceiling, 
and having there spread themselves out flutter down a g ain’. 
We shall read of this same effect, shortly, in the Great Am- 
herst Mystery. 

Next in our series of Instances, we have printed the remarks 
upon Poltergeists contributed to the Proceedings of the Society 
for Psychical Research , by Sir William Barrett, in their volume 
for 1910. Speaking generally on the phenomena, he observes: 
‘The movement of objects is usually quite unlike that due to 
gravitational or other attraction. They slide about, rise in the 
air, move in eccentric paths, sometimes in a leisurely manner, 
often turn round in their career, and usually descend quietly 
without hurting the observers. . . . Stones are thrown, but no 
one is hurt; I myself have seen a large pebble drop apparently 
from space in a room where the only culprit could have been 
myself, and certainly I did not throw it.’ And Sir William 
Barrett follows his remarks by giving an account of two cases 
of Poltergeists in Ireland, the Derrygonnelly case, and that of 
Enniscorthy, the former of which was observed by him per- 
sonally. Both cases are of exceptional interest and value. The 
first of this pair of Poltergeists occurred at a farm in Ennis- 
killen, which is described as being the most lonely spot 
imagin able. It stood on a bleak moorland, two miles from an 
isolated village. The year is 1877, and Sir William Barrett, on 
information, proceeded to the spot and made a personal 

135 



EXAMINATION 

investigation. This is, therefore, a most important instance, 
for nearly always the phenomena have only been observed by 
ignorant persons, and by the time interest has been aroused 
they have ceased their play. His account of it is to be found in 
the Dtiblin University Magazine for December 1877, as well 
as in these notes contributed by him, more than forty years 
later, to the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. 
The haunted family in this case were Methodists, who had 
been thrown into a state of utter alarm by these strange hap- 
penings. 1 Sir William Barrett seems from his account to have 
spent two or three evenings at the farm, and to have taken 
with him another reliable witness. The centre of the disturb- 
ances was Maggie, the twenty year old daughter, and we could 
have guessed, already, that the phenomena would be likely to 
begin as soon as Maggie went to bed. Sir William Barrett 
waited, and before long the knocking had begun. The whole 
house, as at Cashen’s Gap, shook with knocks and rappings. 
But the horrible feature of this Derrygonnelly case is in the 
proofs of intelligence exhibited by the Poltergeist. For it 
would return answers to mental questions. Asking this of it, 
in silence. Sir William Barret would extend a certain number 
of fingers of both his hands, in his pockets, and the rappings 
would answer him back the correct number. This was done so 
frequently that there could be no question of mere coincidence. 
He satisfied himself, also, that Maggie could not have produced 
the knockings. This, indeed, was clearly impossible because 
they came from every comer of the house. The noises were 
loudest, though, in the girl’s bedroom. At first, and this is again 
in sign of an intelligence, they would only continue in the dark- 
ness. But gradually, little by little. Sir William Barrett was able 
to bring a lighted candle into the room, and they would go on 

1 We note that the family were Methodists, and wonder whether a 
life of John Wesley was in the house. If this were so, they would be 
familiar with the haunting of Epworth Rectory. Postscript. On 
reading, as we go to press, the summary of this case by Andrew 
Lang, in Cock Lane and Common Sense , and the original report on it 
by Sir William Barrett, in the Dublin University Magazine , for 
December 1877, 1 find that my surmise is correct. The Methodist 
family at Derrygonnelly were familiar with the Epworth hauntings , 
from the life of John Wesley. This is important evidence for the 
continuity of tradition in all these hauntings. 

136 



EXAMINATION 

knocking, undisturbed. This is a curious pdint, and does 
seem to argue that the Poltergeist had animal intelligence. 
We are given a good description of this weird scene, with 
the family praying, for they were convinced that it was an evil 
spirit. 

The other Poltergeist, at Enniscorthy, is no less interesting. 
On this occasion Sir William Barrett came too late upon the 
scene, though he was able to question the persons concerned, 
but the first-hand evidence that he quotes is most convincing. 
The scene was a small, new-built house in Enniscorthy, Co. 
Wexford, and the time 1910. On this occasion, for a change, 
the centre was a boy, Randall, eighteen years old, and a 
Protestant. He had taken lodgings in this house and occupied 
a small back bedroom with another young man, sharing it, 
in fact, with two other youths at the time when the disturb- 
ances began. They took the form of loud knockings, and of a 
hauling of the heavy bed in which two of the boys slept across 
the floor of their room. Soon the rumour of these happenings 
spread through the town, and a reporter of the local news- 
paper obtained permission to sit up in their room with another 
friend. This is the eyewitness whose evidence we are given, 
and it reads most convincingly. There were, therefore, four 
persons in the room, the reporter and his friend, Randall and 
the other boy, and they waited in darkness for the performance 
to begin. They had not long to wait. Within a few minutes a 
loud knocking began. The reporter listened, and expressed 
his opinion that it was a rat. ‘You will soon see the rat it is!’ 
Randall’s companion answered him. We are told that the 
knocking, which seemed to centre in the wooden wall quite 
out of reach of Randall, then became louder and much 
quicker. After a time it abruptly stopped and then, suddenly, 
we read of the terrified exclamations made by Randall, cul- 
minating with his remark: ‘I cannot hold them; they are going, 
and I am going with them; there is something pushing me 
from inside: I am going, I am going, I’m gone!’ at which 
moment, lighting a match, the witnesses saw Randall being 
pulled bodily from his bed and his bedclothes tom from off 
him. This experience was repeated and, on every occasion, was 
preceded by that furious knocking, which increased in speed, 

137 



EXAMINATION 

stopped suddenly, and then the violence would begin. After a 
few days none of the occupants would stand any more of it and 
the boy, Randall, left the house and took lodgings elsewhere. 
This was the end of the phenomena. He was interviewed only 
a little time afterwards, by Sir William Barrett, who describes 
him as seeming to be truthful in character and of more than 
average intelligence. Randall’s own testimony, told in his own 
words, is, therefore, deeply interesting, because it is almost 
the only intelligible, first-hand evidence that we can find from 
any person who can be suspected of having been, himself, the 
home or accomplice of a Poltergeist. He describes the feeling, 
when his bed was moving, or when the clothes were pulled off 
his bed, as an irresistible force, and mentions his phrase, T am 
going! I am gone!’ as the true description of what he felt. 1 
The Enniscorthy case is, in fact, one of the most convincing 
to read of all die Poltergeist narratives. The setting is so 
simple, in a back bedroom, in a new-built house, in a little 
market town. No adventitious aid of loneliness, of weird 
surroundings, comes to help it. 

And this brings us to the Great Amherst mystery of 1879, 
which we place next in order to that of Enniscorthy because 
it has points of resemblance, and for the reason that it would 
be a mistake to end our collection of Instances with a story 
that sounds so incredible. Nevertheless, it is a mystery, and 
one which becomes more, and not less, interesting the more 
that we examine it. The scene is Amherst, in Nova Scotia, a 
‘beautiful village situated on the famous Bay of Fundy’. ‘Great’ 
is only the appellation given to it by Mr. Walter Hubbell, 
whose account we are forced to read because there is none 
other, and he aspired, we might say, to become proprietor of 
the mystery. Hubbell was an American actor and impresario, 
in modest form, and it is unfortunate that we have only his 
account of these happenings. He had lived in the world of the 
music hall and the fair, so that the ‘Great’ has the meaning 
of die ‘Great Liotard’, die ‘Great Vance’, the ‘lions’ of the old 

1 His remarks, as typifying what he felt, should be compared with 
the utterances of Esther Cox in the Amherst mystery. Sir William 
Barrett also interviewed the maidservant in the house. The pro- 
prietor, Redmond, he did not see, and this is unfortunate. 

138 



EXAMINATION 

music hall. And it is as such, most unfortunately, that he ran 
this case. Being told of it, and seeing its c omm ercial possi- 
bilities, Hubbell hurried to the scene and contrived to install 
himself in the very house. But we must not precipitate the 
story. The household, in this little yellow-painted wooden 
house with bright geraniums in its windows, consisted of 
Daniel Teed, a shoemaker, his wife, and her two sisters, 
Jennie and Esther Cox. Jennie was twenty-two years old, and 
the belle of the village; Esther was nineteen. We are told that 
she was dark and sullen and of a nervous temperament and we 
know, immediately, that Esther was the cause of the disturb- 
ances. 

Their start was after this fashion. The two sisters, one night, 
heard a rustling in a green pasteboard box filled with patch- 
work, which was under the bed. Thinking that a mouse had 
got into it, they placed the box in the middle of the room. 
Suddenly, to their astonishment, it leaped a foot, and then 
three feet, into the air. It repeated this peculiar, and pre- 
monitory performance, in front of the other members of the 
family. That night as Esther, who had complained of feeling 
unwell, lay in her bed, which she shared with her sister 
Jennie, she started up in great distress, saying, in the bucolic 
language which is attributed to her by Air. Hubbell: ‘I am 
swelling up and shall certainly burst, I know I shall.’ The 
phenomena then began the full play oif their wayward fancies. 
She was put back in bed, where it did really appear as though 
she were swelling up, from head to foot. ‘She would fill up 
and lift the clothes as you would a bladder and then it would 
suddenly collapse. These spells came in regular order, about 
every minute.’ This was followed up by one or two loud 
explosions, like claps of thunder, appearing to come from 
under her bed, and this marked the close of the visitation, for 
her swellings subsided, she became normal in manner and less 
hysterical, and was soon fast asleep, as though exhausted by 
her performance. And so she continued regularly, at intervals 
of a day or two. Many of the local inhabitants came to watch 
her, and Doctor Carritte was brought in to soothe her and to 
give her sedatives.We are now told of yet more extraordinary 
occurrences. The pillow or bolster which was under her head 

139 



EXAMINATION 

flew out from its position as though inflated with gas and stood 
straight up in the air, nor could the exertion of a man’s 
strength restore it to its place . 1 Her sheets flew off her bed and 
stood up stiffly, of themselves, in the middle of the floor . 2 Any 
o rname nt or article in the house was, by now, liable to leave 
its accustomed place and fly about the room. Soon, there was 
nothing that was too improbable to happen. Under the eyes 
of her faipily, who were sitting at a meal, there appeared 
writing on the wall: ‘Esther Cox, you are mine to kill.’ The 
reader may think that, by now, Esther Cox had gone a little 
too far; and it is true that the evidence as to this writing on the 
wall is remarkably scanty. We are not told how it was written; 
whether it was traced by a hand, with a pencil, or by what means 
this inscription became visible. Moreover, it is at this moment 
that Mr. Walter Hubbell appears upon the scene in person. 
The best of the Great Amherst mystery is over. 

As soon as Mr. Hubbell comes to live in the house the scene 
degenerates almost into farce. Two excessively boring spirits. 
Bob Nickle and Maggie Fisher, are said to be haunting Esther 
Cox. And Mr. Hubbell makes the story altogether too fantastic, 
in default of the really interesting phenomena, which had 
ceased, as is nearly always the case, a few weeks after they had 
begun. The most idiotic things begin to happen; and Mr. 
Hubbell has to spend the whole of one day picking pins out of 
Esther; though this, it is ‘only fair to add, is no more than the 

1 This same phenomenon is reported in the Cideville case, see 
p. 19 of this present book; and in the story of William Morse of 
Newberry in New England, in 1679, reported by Increase Mather in 
his Remarkable Providences , which case is summarized on p. 62 of this 
present volume. 

* At Cupar, in Scotland, in 1842, clothes hanging on a line shot 
upwards suddenly; a loud detonation was noted at the same time. 
Some of the dothes fell to the ground, others vanished, according to 
a note in The Times for July 5th of that year. In Liverpool, on May 
nth of the same year, dothes hanging on a line suddenly shot up- 
wards. They moved away slowly. Smoke from chimneys indicated 
that above ground there was a southward wind, but the dothes 
moved away northward, cf. Annals of Electricity, 6; 499. In 1849, in 
the home of Robert Gibson of Orlar, in Westmorland, the table 
doth was pulled off and blew out like a sail, cf. The Westmorland 
Gazette for that year. This chain of coincidences is pieced together 
from ‘The March of the Poltergeist’, by Hereward Carrington, in 
Bulletin I of the International Institute for Psychical Research, Ltd. 

140 



EXAMINATION 

distortion of a well-known Poltergeist phenomenon. 1 And he 
obtained the willing consent of Esther to exhibit her talents in 
public, with, it would seem, but poor results. Immense crowds 
of people attended her first performances; but nothing what- 
ever happened, and soon the public came no more. Mr. Hub- 
bell, however, wrote his sensational account of the happenings 
at Amherst, a book which came out in 1888, and, by 1916, 
was in its tenth edition and had sold fifty-five thousand copies. 
The phenomena, however, in the better conditions of her own 
home, continued for some time. But the natural mediumship 
of Esther Cox had, by this time, degenerated into trickery. 
She went to live in the house of a neighbour, Mr. Davison, 
as servant, and not long afterwards his bam was burnt down. 
This is scarcely surprising, for, while living in the house at 
Amherst, lighted matches had been seen to fall from the ceil- 
ing. This trait of incendiarism, of conscious or unconscious 
arson, is in the ordinary routine of the Poltergeist and we shall 
notice another instance of it, shortly, in the case of Wem, in 
Shropshire. Esther Cox, however, was given in charge by 
Mr. Davison, and was rewarded with four months in prison. 
For some time her activities had annoyed sceptical persons, 
and, already, in the narrative of Mr. Hubbell, one of die lead- 
ing inhabitants had suggested that a raw-hide whip applied to 
the bare shoulders of Esther Cox would put a stop to the 
phenomena for good and all. 

In addition to the testimony of Mr. Hubbell there are two 
other authorities who have to be consulted upon the Amherst 
mystery. There is, in the first place, Mr. W. F. Prince^ who 
writes his criticisms of the case in Volume XIII of the Pro- 
ceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research. He is 
writing thirty years after the occurrences and it must be said 
that it is as easy, after that lapse of time, to criticize too closely, 
as it is to believe too implicitly, the info rm ation that lies before 
you. He dismisses nearly all the phenomena as being due to 
trickery. There was the occasion, for instance, when Esther 

1 This symptom, which is found in other cases, is nearly related to 
the cases of pin or nail swallowing, a sort of omnivorous mania of 
which there is frequent mention in the newspapers. Compare, also, 
the Alssaoua and other fanatical or dervish communities in Moslem 
lands. 



EXAMINATION 

Cox was living in the house of Mr. Davison, and when he 
noticed a curry comb following her across the yard. Mr. W. F. 
Prince has almost too simple an explanation for this. It is, 
merely, that Esther Cox was pulling it after her by a piece of 
black thread, and this, he thinks, is proved by the way in 
which, we are told, the curry comb in following her banged 
against the comer of a door and came to a dead stop. That 
does, decidedly, sound suspicious; but it must be realized that, 
at the time this happened, Esther Cox was in the full decadence 
of her talent and would almost certainly be resorting to 
trickery in order to help out her effects. Mr. W. F. Prince 
makes other strictures of this nature upon the phenomena, but, 
in the end, he does not deny to Esther Cox that she may have 
been able to produce some remarkable effects in her prime. 
And he makes, in the meantime, other valuable criticisms of 
the case. The phenomena at Amh erst had begun shortly after 
Esther Cox had an unpleasant adventure with an admirer. Bob 
McNeal, who drove her into the woods and attempted to 
assault her. This we know from Mr. Hubbell’s narrative. It is 
suggested by Mr. W. F. Prince that the spirit. Bob Nickle, 
whom Esther said was tormenting her, was nothing else than 
the transference of Bob McNeal into Bob Nickle. She de- 
scribed the spirit as an old man with white hair; but that is an 
easy instance of the psychological censor at work. And Maggie 
Fisher, so to speak, was thrown in by her for company. All 
this receives dose confirmation if we read intently into the 
narrative of Mr. Hubbell. The attacks came, we are told, at 
regular intervals of twenty-eight days. This is of obvious 
significance. And, as to the torments inflicted upon her by the 
spirit^ Bob McNeal: ‘Daniel Teed’ (her stepbrother) ‘explained 
to me’, we read in the narrative, ‘the true nature of the tor- 
ture, but it must be nameless.’ It was, in fact, the medieval 
incubus, or its mid-Victorian variant. And the whole trouble 
will have had its start in that. Esther Cox had been given a 
severe nervous shock at a critical time of her youth, and such 
was its hysterical side play, but no less mysterious for that. 

The other authority upon the Amh erst mystery is Mr. 
Hereward Carrington, who writes of it in his interesting book. 
Personal Experiences in Spiritualism. Mr. Carrington had the 

142 



EXAMINATION 

good fortune and prescience to go to Nova Scotia in 1907 
when many of the protagonists were still alive, and to seek out 
their evidence. Dr. Carritte, who might have given the most 
valuable testimony of all, was long dead; but Mr. Carrington 
was able to interview Mrs. Teed, the eldest sister and owner 
of the haunted house; Mr. Davison, whose bam was burnt 
down; and even Esther Cox herself. Mrs. Teed seemed willing 
to speak of the strange experiences of thirty years before and 
testified to the general truth of the printed narrative, though 
she said that Mr. Hubbell had exaggerated in order to make it 
more dramatic and exciting. She showed Mr. Carrington the 
set of chairs, half a dozen in number, which upon one occasion 
had been piled up mysteriously, one upon another, the lowest 
chair of all being, then, as mysteriously withdrawn, so that the 
whole pile fell clattering to the ground. The chairs had, still, 
the marks and dents made upon them, when they were seen by 
Mr. Carrington. She gave him, also, an additional anecdote, 
not found in the narrative, to the effect that when Esther was 
lying in bed, with the door open across the passage into Mrs. 

. Teed’s room, a heavy chair came across the floor of Esther’s 
room, out through the open door, down to the landing, turning 
the comer there, and proceeding, thus, slowly and deliber- 
ately, to the bottom of the stairs. Mrs. Teed appears to have 
been convinced of the supernatural origin of the phenomena. 
Mr. Davison also was seen by Mr. Carrington, and, in a 
letter written to him, tells the story that we have quoted of the 
curry comb, and makes the curious remark about Esther: ‘I 
have often watched her to find out how she came downstairs, 
she seeming to fly.* As climax to his labours, Mr. Carrington 
set out in order to interview Esther Cox herself. She was 
long ago married, with a child, but badly married, and living 
in very dirty surroundings. She was still sullen in manner, as 
she had been thirty years before, but pretended to know 
nothing, or to have forgotten all the occurrences of the past. 
She was unwilling to speak of them. Eventually, her husband 
said that she would tell Mr. Carrington the whole story for one 
hundred dollars; but Mr. Carrington, realizing the worthless- 
ness of any thing she might say in those circumstances, made 
his departure and troubled her no more. 

143 



EXAMINATION 

It would seem, taking it all in all, that the Amherst mystery 
is, indeed, among the most interesting and convincing of all 
Poltergeist stories. There remains, even after Mr. Hubbell’s 
narrative, the quaint phrasing of which will amuse, or startle, 
both the sophisticated and the unsophisticated reader, enough 
to make us certain that excessively curious forces were at 
work in the little house in Amherst. The beginning of the 
disturbances is extremely weird to read of, and if only it had 
been properly investigated upon scientific lines, and while the 
forces were still at their strongest, the mystery nought well be 
more mysterious than ever. That Esther Cox cheated at a 
later stage there can be little doubt, but this is the invariable 
rule in the great majority of such cases, and, as we have so 
often had occasion to say in these pages, one, or even several, 
instan ces of trickery do not disprove all of the phenomena. 
The writing on the wall we find to be too much of a strain upon 
our credibility. And we cannot be impressed when Esther, 
writing a letter in front of Mr. Hubbell, has a spell of auto- 
matic writing and the words appear on the sheet of paper, 

dictated, we are told, by the spirit. Bob McNeal, ‘G D — 

Hubbell’s Sole to Hell, and your’s!’ But, at that stage, as we 
have said, and largely at Hubbell’s instigation, the whole 
affair had degenerated into farce and its interesting period was 
over. 

A story follows this that is Oriental in setting and, to our 
taste, must be considered as exceptionally curious. It alarms 
one in a quiet manner. Nothing whatever really happens, but 
it is most peculiar. This is the story of Mr. G., of Dordrecht, 
and its scene is the jungle in Sumatra, in 1903. What is 
interesting in this story is the hallucinatory nature of the hap- 
penings. Mr. G., in the postscript to his own story, notices the 
slowness of all the movements. His ‘boy’ would seem to be 
the pivot of the action; but of this we cannot be certain. Mr. G. 
says that the ‘boy’ moved with such slow movements that he 
wondered if he, himself, were in some form of trance. The 
‘boy’, it will be noticed, was extremely frightened. And there 
are the odd circumstances that the stones fell so slowly, out of 
nowhere, and that they felt warm to the touch. This stone- 

144 



EXAMINATION 

throwing is, of course, typical Poltergeist phenomena, but the 
particular story is interesting because of that warmth, and for 
the drugged or hallucinatory atmosphere of this haunting. It 
is to be related, from its ordinary side, to other instances of 
stone-throwing, in such different localities as at Upholland, 
Lancashire, in 1904; Cherbourg, in 1907; La Paz, Bolivia, 1906; 
near Calcutta, in the same year; in Jamaica at many different 
times; in Florence, 1909; Java, in 1871 ; Port of Spain, Trinidad, 
in 1905; and upon innumerable other occasions. The case of 
Mr. G. is, however, one of the most convincing, and mysterious, 
of the lot. 1 

We end our collection of Instances with a pair of Polter- 
geists, pure and simple. They are most typical of their kind 
and go well, for this reason, at the end of our Examination. 
They are the Worksop case, and that of Wem, in Shropshire, 
both of which are reported in Volume XII of the Proceedings 
of the Society for Psychical Research. Their date is 1883. The 
first of these, most unfortunately, was never properly investi- 
gated at the time of its occurrence. Also, on the surface, there 
were suspicious features in the case. The owner of the house, 
a horse dealer, had the reputation, locally, of being a bad 
character. He was disapproved of by his neighbours. It was 
suggested that he had caused the disturbances in order to win 
a bet, though no more is heard of his wager, and damage to 
the extent of ten pounds was done in his house. One of the 
more curious features of the Worksop Poltergeist is that the 
first warning was given before the arrival of Eliza Rose, the 
young girl in whom the disturbances had their centre. 2 It took 
the form of a sudden tilting of the kitchen table. A few days 
later Eliza Rose arrived, and the phenomena began. Objects, 
and we have read elsewhere of this, made an abortive jump 
from the floor, perhaps to the height of a foot or more; and a 
few moments later, at a second attempt, levitated themselves 

1 This story should be compared with that repeated by Increase 
Mather as having taken place at Portsmouth, in New England, in 
1682 (see p. 64 of this present book). ‘They took up nine of the 
stones and laid them on the table, some of them being as hot as if they 
came out of the fire.’ 

4 It will be noted, in the actual narrative, that Eliza Rose was the 
child of an imbecile mother. 


145 


s.p. 



EXAMINATION 

successfully to a greater height. Nothing in the house kept 
still. All small objects were on the wing. A basin, and this was 
witnessed by several persons, jumped up and made a rotatory, 
wobbling flight towards the ceiling, which it touched. The 
owner of the house seems to have thought the girl was be- 
witched. We have his exclamation: ‘It doesn’t matter a d amn 
where that lass goes, there’s something smashes.’ It is a 
typical bucolic setting. We read that the entire house, even the 
bedrooms, were hung with hams and flitches of bacon, and 
that all was indescribably dirty. The most interesting points 
in the narrative, as we have seen, are that premonitory signal, 
given even before the true Poltergeist arrived upon the scene, 
and die description of the wobbling and slow flight of the china 
bowl. No sooner had Eliza Rose left the house than the 
phenomena ceased. They had only lasted for a very few days; 
and such phenomena, this is the pity of it, can never be 
repeated. But it would seem certain that, here again, the 
authentic mystery was at work. 

The Wem Poltergeist might be called a fascinating ming ling 
of the false and true. Both genuine phenomena and obvious 
trickery were at work. The scene is Wem, near Shrewsbury, 
and the suspected person was the nursemaid, Emma Davies. 
At the beginning of the manifestations, like Anne Robinson 
in the Stockwell case, a hundred years before, Emma Davies 
was completely calm. There is the scene, vouched for upon 
good evidence, when she stood with arms folded while 
crockery flew past her out of a cupboard, and generally in a 
slanting direction. Later on, she becomes hysterical. There is 
the curious evidence of Miss Maddox, the schoolmistress, 
who saw her rise from the ground in a chair, and who sat upon 
the same chair, taking Emma Davies upon her lap, when her 
boots, so we are told, ‘kept on flying off ’. 1 While Emm a was at 

1 This same phenomenon is to be found in ‘The Daemon of Spraiton 
in Devon’, published in Pandaemonium, or the Devil’s Cloister Opened, 
by Richard Bovet, in 1683. In this instance (the person possessed 
was Francis Fey, a young servant to Mr. Philip Furze): ‘At another 
time one of his shoe strings was observed (without the assistance of 
any hand) to come to its own accord out of its shoe and fling itself to 
the other side of the room; the other was crawling after it, but a maid 
espying that, with her hand drew it out and it strangely clasp’d, and 
curl’d about her hand like a living eel or serpent.’ 

146 



EXAMINATION 

a neighbouring farm, crockery rose off a table into the air. She 
is then seen by her mistress to be holding a piece of brick in 
her hand, behind her back, which she throws forward, at the 
same time crying out in order to draw everyone’s attention. 
The baby’s cradle is set on fire. She is found with matches in 
her hand. The clothes in the cradle smell of paraffin, and much 
paraffin is used upon the farm. Emm a is becoming an in- 
cendiarist, like Esther Cox, no doubt because of the dying in 
her of her original talent. A room catches fire, and a farmer 
comes running to the house, seeing all the windows lit up, as 
though with flames. It is noticed that the flames were ‘very 
high and white, and that the articles burnt were very little 
singed’. It is suspected that she has sprinkled them with 
par affin . And the case ends unsatisfactorily, with no thing 
proved. There has been some trickery, but all of the pheno- 
mena cannot be accounted for in this way. We might say that 
they started in all genuineness and that Emma Davies, finding 
herself a focus of interest, did all she could to satisfy her 
audience; but, after a short time, had to produce the pheno- 
mena artificially, for the machinery would no longer work in 
her. 

The total of these stories of Poltergeists, if read carefully 
and taken as a whole, suggest the following remarks. They 
come in strict pattern from too many different parts of the 
world for it to be mere coincidence. Every country in Europe, 
Puritan North America, India, Africa, China, the East and 
West Indies, Iceland, there is no quarter of the globe that is 
without them. At the same time, there must be not one, but 
several causes, to account for the phenomena, where they are 
genuine. Were we to believe that they are the work of evil 
spirits, we would have to admit that they are sent to tease more 
than to injure. The action is, always, that of a wicked fairy in 
the kitchen, the nursery, the young girl’s bedroom, or the 
haunted attic. It turns the milk, it makes the water boil, it 
wrecks the china cupboard, raps in the wainscoting, treads 
upon the stairs, makes pretence to wind the old clock in the 
comer, rings the bells, writes things in the dust upon the 
windowpane. In the course of our narratives we have seen it 

147 



EXAMINATION 

arrange tableaux, ventriloquize, do simple guessing and arith- 
metic sums, play tunes, write poems, hide the Bible, and play 
tricks in the stables. This we can say of it, despite so many 
collected instances, that the Poltergeist is the rarest and most 
shy of visitors. And, once it has gone, never in any circum- 
stances does it return. 

At first glance, there are the two main sorts. There is the 
haunted house, the castle in Calvados, Willington Mill, Hinton 
Ampner, the house of Mr. Mompesson; and what could be 
called the flying visit, the house at Worksop, the carpenter’s 
shop at Swanland, near Hull. The former are set pieces, lasting 
months, or years; the latter, last only for a week, a day, or only 
for an hour. They are kitchen scandals, ghosts of the dark 
cupboard; and science cannot be patient with them. And yet, 
if the ‘luminous woman of Pirano’ (Lear-like in sound!) is 
admitted as true, what of Angelique Cottin, Emma Davies, 
Anne Robinson, and the rest of them? What, seriously, are we 
to think of Epworth Rectory, of the Drummer of Tedworth, 
of Mr. Procter’s mill? The great historical instance would 
seem to be the Drummer of Tedworth. We have seen that this 
case was known to the Mathers, Cotton and Increase, who 
wrote of the Poltergeists in New England; that it was known to 
the Wesley family at Epworth; and that this, in its turn, was 
familiar to Mr. Procter at Willington Mill, and to the Method- 
ist family at Derrygonnelly. This makes it seem as if these 
cases were not so isolated as we think. 1 But, in the house at 
Worksop, one of the most mysterious of all the stories, and at 
Swanland, there is no such evidence. And why should it be 
that the foreign cases, that of Councillor Hahn, of Angelique 
Cottin, for instance, or that of Mme Shchapoff, so closely 
correspond? There are links of similarity between Mme 
Shchapoff, in 1870, and the case at Ringcroft in Galloway, in 
1695; while Mme Shchapoff was precursor in many ways of 
Esther Cox in the Great Amherst mystery of 1879. We can 
only answer that such is the whole repertory, and that the best 
actors in the company know all the tricks. That is why, in so 
many different parts of the world, and at varying times, there 

1 It would be interesting to know whether a life of John Wesley 
was among the books at Cashen’s Gap. 

148 



EXAMINATION 

are identical phenomena. What is it that they can perform? 
What are their miracles? The full battery of the hysterical 
subject is at their command. And this, of course, brings its 
infection to other persons in the household. Shadow person- 
ality comes into play. The tableaux figures in the home of Dr. 
Phelps are to be accounted for in this way; but, as we have said 
before, that does not diminish the mystery. The incendiary, 
Mme Shchapoff, Emma Davies, Esther Cox, and many 
others, belong to the same category. Such things are to be 
explained upon purely material grounds. 

But there remain other, and deeper, mysteries. The rappings 
seem never to be, categorically, proved or disproved. And, 
most important of all, there are the movements of inanimate 
objects, together with circumstantial accounts of their strange 
behaviour during flight, descriptions which might apply as 
much to the witnesses being in a state of hallucination as to the 
true conduct of chairs or crockery in transit. Circumstantial 
evidence is to be found concerning the gyrations of the chair 
in the T. B. Clarke case. It was spun round and round with 
incredible speed and violence, only to come to an abrupt stop, 
as though held still again in a grip of steel. 1 In so many other 
cases the flight of objects seems as though it were controlled 
until the last moment of their journey. Readers must, already, 
in the course of these pages, have become familiar with the 
stories of heavy objects that strike like feathers, or like locks 
of wool, and with their converse: ‘a matchbox was seal to fall 
to the floor from the mantelpiece, landing with a noise like a 
bar of iron.’ 2 There are other and curious contradictions. Per- 
haps the best account of these is in a case that we have, so far, 
omitted to examine, a series of extraordinary events that took 
place in 1919, in a villa outside Coimbra, in Portugal. 3 The 

1 See Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research , 
VoLVII. 

a See p. 48 of this present work: the case of Dr. Eliakim Phelps. 

3 They are described in Le Parc du Mystere, by Homen Christo 
and Madame Rachilde, Paris, 1923. M. Christo was a student of 
Coimbra University, newly married, with a child, who took the villa 
in question just outside the town of Coimbra. Madame Rachilde, a 
sceptic in these matters, is none other than that last, or belated, mem- 
ber of the Great Romantic Movement, who, from the early ’eighties 
until a year or two ago, has published one or more books, every year, 

I49 



EXAMINATION 

whole story, into which there is, unfortunately, not space to 
enter here, reads like an infectious condition of hallucination. 
You open a window, or door, and a moment later it is shut 
again. You close the shutters and, as soon as you blow out the 
candle, you see the shutters opening and letting in the moon- 
light. There is a loud and tremendous noise just outside, in 
the garden, and, running out, you find the police in the lane 
leading to the house, who have heard nothing. You walk out 
into the lane; the police go inside; again there is the noise and, 
again, the policemen hear nothing. But, before long, everyone 
is in tune with the disturbances. It is a world of contradiction. 
Or, indeed, you are having an experience of a world, where 
time and co mmo n sense and truth are different, or have lost 
their meaning. It is a mistake to say that such a house was 
haunted. A force more interesting than that was reigning there. 
Was this really the case? Or did it exist only in their minds? If 
the latter, then what we need for our information are their re- 
actions to it. The same power held its dominion, for an after- 
noon, in the carpenter’s shop at Swanland, in the house at 
Worksop, at Enniscorthy, Derrygonnelly, with Dr. Eliakim 
Phelps, and in the house of Mr. Mompesson. Was it the 
Kingdom of Cockayne; or any other name we like to give it? 

What is the explanation? We do not know. And no-one 
knows, though, of course, there is a reason. It is not more 
mysterious than freak lightning. As I write this, that power 

in the vein of Mrs. Raddiffe, Petrus Borel, Maturin, an interesting 
figure in herself because of her friendship with Verlaine, with Arthur 
Rimbaud, even with Marinetti. An account of her books can be read 
in The Romantic Agony , by Mario Praz, London, 1932. Her collabora- 
tion in Le Parc du My store cannot but have helped the story, which, 
in any case, is remarkable enough in itself. Many of the noises in this 
villa appear to have been auditory hallucinations. The phenomena 
only took place in the darkness, and consisted chiefly of a ‘cat and 
mouse game’ played by the Poltergeist with the window shutters. If 
securely barred they would open immediately the candle was put out, 
letting in the moonlight. And, if you went to the window, they would 
resist with full force, or suddenly fly back and be slammed before 
your face. The wife of M. Christo, going upstairs, felt as though some 
force were pulling upon her legs. Eventually, terrible shriekings were 
heard (as in the T. B. Clarke case) and M. Christo and his fetidly left 
the house. So did the police, who would seem to have been equally 
alarmed. No explanation of these extraordinary disturbances was 
ever forthcoming. 


150 



EXAMINATION 

might remove my shoes and put them on the mantelpiece; 
place the books from my shelves in a neat pile upon the floor, 
leaving open Saducismus Triumphatus at a certain page; and 
remove the pen from my hand with such force that it scores a 
bull’s eye in the face of Signor Mussolini, who looks at me 
from The Times upon another table. Were that to happen to 
me, I should be alarmed; but not superstitiously frightened. 

But the moment comes to take leave of these mysteries; to 
bid them farewell and introduce them in person, in their 
original, before the reader. He may try, if he can, to find a 
reason for them. And once more, in imagination, we walk by 
the dark walls of Malking Tower, wondering, as at Leap Castle 
in the very middle of Ireland, what secrets we should have to 
tell from long looking through those sightless windows, could 
we only live, summer and winter, with the rooks in the high 
trees. We would know on what nights the dogs bark. And see 
the witches, from all the Forest of Pendle, come with their 
famili ars to the conclave. We would know Old Demdike and 
Old Chattox, both blind, both led along by young maidens 
who were learning wisdom. We would see die witches of St. 
Osyth, and that giant woman who is now a skeleton; hear 
Isobel Gowdie talk of the magic Elfhame; hear them dance 
Tinkletum Tankletum among the graves of Forfar; and Thout, 
tout a tout , tout, throughout and about upon the way to the 
Sabbath at Wincanton, with Rentum Tormentum as they are 
passing back. 

And the subtler mysteries begin their play, worked, most of 
them, by maidens. There is magic, and much of terror in the 
air. It is the kitchen world, enchanted. These are old days and 
ancient stories, even in this year. It is the tale of Cinderella 
and her ugly sisters. The fairy Carabosse drives up in her 
coach, drawn by rats and mice, and the rappings and the 
breakings and the flying crocks and pots begin. The bedroom 
of Cinderella creaks and rattles with the fairy prince. He is 
coming to lie beside her. There is an aching longing; and the 
life of the household drudge has become an empty void. Or 
two or three young men, together, have this spiritual disturb- 
ance. Or the litde boy, who plays with soot and coal, goes out 
and hangs hims elf, and is found in time. The young girl, who 

151 



EXAMINATION 

has no doll, imagines one, and it becomes her pet, her familiar, 
her magic lover, who talks to her, and raps in the panelling, 
and will do everything but show himself. 

We see the iron trees and the ballast hills, and hear the 
wild sighings of the engines (ghosts, themselves, for they are 
the engines of the ’thirties) at the haunted mill, looking down 
from the viaduct; we find Nancy Wesley kneeling on the stairs 
and blowing a horn in the haunted rectory; hear a sound as 
of the great iron brazier falling ‘Twirl! twirl! twirl! till it sinks 
into the ground’; and, in the dining-room, disturb someone 
who is dressing and preparing eleven figures for the tableaux. 
The matchbox slides towards the bed; a heavy footfall comes 
down the stairs, but it is like a ball that bounces, step by step; 
bits of wood are moving in a straight line, striking a door 
noiselessly as a feather, and again as though borne along on 
gently heaving waves. What, by all the powers of good and 
evil, are these sights and sounds! No one can tell. It is still, 
and may ever, be a mystery. So listen to the Poltergeist, him- 
self, who was once, and for a time, the Cauld Lad O’ Hilton: 

Wae’s me , woe’s me. 

The acorn’s not yet 
Fallen from the tree 
That’s to grow the wood. 

That’s to make the cradle, 

That’s to rock the bairn. 

That’s to grow a man. 

That’s to lay me . 1 

1 This poem, which is well known among English folk ballads, has 
the following story attached to it: ‘This fairy or goblin was seldom 
seen, but his gambols were heard nightly in the hall of the great house. 
He overturned everything in the kitchen after the servants had gone 
to bed, and was, in short, one of the most mischievous sprites you 
could imagine. One night, however, the kitchen happened to be left 
in great confusion, and the goblin, who did everything by contraries, 
set it completely to rights; and the next morning it was in perfect 
apple-pie order. We may be quite sure that, after this occurrence, the 
kitchen was'not again made orderly by the servants . 

‘Notwithstanding, however, the service thus nightly rendered by 
the Cauld Lad, the servants did not like it. They preferred to do their 
own work, without preternatural agency, and accordingly resolved 
to do their best to drive him from their haunts. The goblin soon 

152 



EXAMINATION 

understood what was going on* and he was heard in the dead of night 
to warble the following lines in a melancholy strain: 

Wae’s me! wae’s me! 

The acorn 9 s not yet 
Fallen from the tree, 

Thafs to grow the wood 
That 9 s to make the cradle * 

Thafs to rock the bairn * 

Thafs to grow to a man , 

Thafs to lay me. 

‘He was* however* deceived in this prediction* for one night being 
colder than usual* he complained in moving verse of his condition. 
Accordingly, on the following evening* a cloak and hood were placed 
for him near the fixe. The servants had unconsciously accomplished 
their deliverance* for present gifts to fairies, and they for ever dis- 
appear. On the next morning* the following lines were found in- 
scribed on the wall: 

I’ve taken your cloak * I 9 ve taken your hood ; 

The Cauld Lad of Hilton will do no more good! 

‘A great variety of stories in which fairies are frightened away by 
presents* are still to be heard in the rural districts of England. Another 
narrative* by Mr. Longstaffe* relates that on one occasion a woman 
found her washing and ironing regularly performed for her every 
night by the fairies. In gratitude to the “good people’ 5 * she placed 
green mantles for their acceptance* and the next night the fairies 
departed* exclaiming — 

Now the pixies 9 work is done! 

We take our clothes * and off we run . 

‘Mrs. Bray tells a similar story of a Devonshire pixy* who helped an 
old woman to spin. One evening she spied the fairy jumping out of 
her door* and observed that it was very raggedly dressed; so die next 
day she thought to win the services of the elf further by placing some 
smart new clothes* as big as those made for a doll, by the side of her 
wheel. The pixy came* put on the clothes* and clapping his hands 
with delight* vanished* saying these lines: 

Pixy fine, pixy gay , 

Pixy now will run away . 

‘Fairies always talk in rhyme. Mr. Allies mentions a Worcester- 
shire fairy legend which says that, upon one occasion* a pixy came 
to a ploughman in a field, and exclaimed: 

Oh, lend a hammer and a nail. 

Which we want to mend our pail. 

— From Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Tales of England , 
collected by James Orchard Halliwell. 


153 






CHOSEN INSTANCES 

1. The Haunting of Epworth Rectory page 157 

2. The Haunting of Willington Mill 189 

from the Diary of Mr. Joseph Procter , reprinted 
hypermission of the Society for Psychical Research 

3. The Drummer of Tedworth 214 

from Sadudsmus Triumphatus, by the Rev. Joseph 

Glanvil 

4. The Haunting at Hinton Ampner 230 

from the Journal of Mrs. Ricketts , reprinted by 
permission of the Sodetyfor Psychical Research 

5. Haunted Houses 268 

reprintedfrom the book of that name by M. Camille 
Flammarion, by permission of Messrs. Ernest Berm, 

Ltd. 

6 . The Poltergeist of the Germans 288 

from ‘The Night Side of Nature’, by Mrs. Catherine 
Crowe , London , 1834 

7. The Enniscorthy, Derrygonnelly and 

other Poltergeist Cases 328 

reported by Sir William Barrett , reprinted by per- 
mission of the Sodetyfor Psychical Research 

8. The Great Amherst Mystery 359 

by Walter Hubbell , New York, Brentano’s, 1885 

9. The Case of Mr. G in Sumatra 380 

reprinted by permission of the Society for Psychical 

Research 

10. The Worksop and Wem Poltergeists 387 

a report by Frank Podmore, reprinted by permission 
of the Sodetyfor Psychical Research 




i. THE HAUNTING OF EPWORTH 
RECTORY 

THE RECORDS OF SAMUEL WESLEY 

Collected and described by John Wesley , in his own words , 
and in letters from his family 


Letters concerning some Supernatural Disturbances at my 
father's house at Epworth in Lincolnshire — John Wesley 


LETTER I— TO MR. SAMUEL WESLEY FROM HIS MOTHER 

January 12, 1716-17 1 

Dear Sam, 

This evening we were agreeably surprised with your pacquet, 
which brought the welcome news of your being alive, after we 
had been in the greatest panic imaginably almost a month, 
thinking either you was dead, or one of your brothers by some 
misfortune been killed. 

The reason of our fears is as follows. On the first of Decern-; 
ber our maid heard, at the door of the dining-room, several 
dismal groans, like a person in extremes, at the point of death. 
We gave litde heed to her relation, and endeavoured to laugh 
her out of her fears. Some nights (two or three) after, several of 
the family heard a strange knocking in divers places, usually 
three or four knocks at a time, and then stayed a little. This 
continued every night for a fortnight; sometimes it was in the 

1 There is conflicting evidence as to the dates of these disturbances. 
Some authorities state that they only took place during the two 
months of November and December 1719. Equally confusing are the 
number of children in the Wesley household, and their names. 

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EPWORTH RECTORY 

garret, but most commonly in the nursery, or green chamber. 1 
We all heard it but your father, and I was not willing he should 
be informed of it, lest he should fancy it was against his own 
death, which, indeed, we all apprehended. But when it began 
to be troublesome, both day and night, that few or none of the 
family durst be alone, I resolved to tell him of it, being 
min ded he should speak to it. At first he would not believe 
but somebody did it to alarm us; but the night after, as soon 
as he was in bed, it knocked loudly nine times, just by his 
bedside. He rose, and went to see if he could find out what it 
was, but could see nothing. Afterwards he heard it as the rest. 

One night it made such a noise in the room over our heads, 
as if several people were walking, then run up and down stairs, 
and was so outrageous that we thought the children would be 
frighted, so your father and I rose and went down in the dark 
to light a candle. Just as we came to the bottom of the broad 
stairs, having hold of each other, on my side there seemed as if 
somebody had emptied a bag of money at my feet; and on his, 
as if all the bottles under the stairs (which were many) had been 
dashed in a thousand pieces. We passed through the hall into 
the kitchen, and got the candle and went to see the children, 
whom we found asleep. 

The next night your father would get Mr. Hoole to lie at our 
house, and we all sat together till one or two o’clock in the 
morning, and heard the knocking as usual. Sometimes it would 
make a noise like the winding up of a jack, at other times, as 
that night Mr. Hoole was with us, like a carpenter planing deals, 
but most commonly it knocked thrice and stopped, and then 
thrice again, and so many hours together. We persuaded your 
father to speak and try if any voice would be heard. One night 
about six o’clock he went into the nursery in the dark, and at 
first heard several deep groans, then knocking. He adjured it 
to speak if it had power and tell him why it troubled his house, 
but no voice was heard, but it knocked thrice aloud. Then he 
questioned if it were S ammy , and bid it, if it were and could 
not speak, knock again, but it knocked no more that night, 
which made us hope it was not against your death. 

Thus it continued till the 26th of December, when it loudly 
1 The green chamber again. 

158 



EPWOigTH RECTORY 

knocked (as your father used to do at the gate) in the nursery 
and departed. We have various conjectures what this may mean. 
For my own part, I fear nothing now you are safe at London 
hitherto, and I hope God will still preserve you. Though some- 
times I am inclined to think my brother is dead. Let me know 
your thoughts on it. 

S. W. 


LETTER II — TO MY FATHER 

„ „ Jamary 30, Saturday 

Honoured Sir, 

My mother tells me a very strange story of disturbances in 
your house. I wish I could have some more particulars from 
you. I would thank Mr. Hoole if he would favour me with a 
letter concerning it. Not that I want to be confirmed myself 
in the belief of it, but for any other person’s satisfaction. My 
mother sent to me to know my thoughts of it, and I cannot 
think at all of any interpretation. Wit, I fancy, might find many, 
but wisdom none. 

Your dutiful and loving son, 

S. Wesley 


LETTER III— FROM MR. S. WESLEY TO HIS MOTHER 

Dean's Yard , Westminster, 

Dear Moth®, Januav 19, 1716-17, Satvdw 

Those who are so wise as not to believe any supernatural 
occurrences, though ever so well attested, could find a hundred 
questions to ask about those strange noises you wrote me an 
account of: but for my part, I know not what question to put, 
which, if answered, would confirm me more in the belief of 
what you tell me. Two or three I have heard from others. Was 
there never a new maid, or man, in the house that might play 
tricks? Was there nobody above in the garrets when the walking 
was there? Did all the family hear it together when they were 
in one room, or at one time? Did it seem to be at all in the 
same place, at the same time? Could not cats, or rats, or dogs 
be the sprights? Was the whole family asleep when my father 
and you went downstairs? Such doubts as these being replied 

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EPWORTH RECTORY 

to, though they could not, as God himself assures us, convince 
them who believe not Moses and the prophets, yet would 
strengthen such as do believe. As to my particular opinion 
concerning the events foreboded by these noises, I cannot, I 
must confess, form any. I think since it was not permitted to 
speak, all guesses must be in vain. The end of spirits’ actions is 
yet more hidden than that of men, and even this latter puzzles 
the most subtle politicians. That we may be struck so as to pre- 
pare seriously for any ill may, it is possible, be one design of 
Providence. It is surely our duty and wisdom to do so. 

Dear mother, I beg your blessing on your dutiful and 
affectionate son, 

S. Wesley 

I expect a particular account from every one. 

LEXTER IV— FROM MRS. WESLEY TO HER SON SAMUEL 

January 26 or 27, 1716-iy 

Dear Sam, 

Though I am not one of those that will believe nothing 
supernatural, but am rather inclined to think there would be 
frequent intercourse between good spirits and us did not our 
deep lapse into sensuality prevent it, yet I was a peat while ere 
I could credit anything of what the children and servants re- 
ported concernin g the noises they heard in several parts of our 
house. Nay, after I had heard them myself, I was willing to 
persuade myself and them that it was only rats or weasels that 
disturbed us; and having been formerly troubled with rats, 
which were frightened away by sounding a horn, I caused a 
horn to be procured, and made them blow it all over the house. 
But from that night they began to blow the noises were more 
loud and distinct, both day and night, than before, and that 
night we rose and went down I was entirely convinced that it 
was beyond the power of any human creature to make such 
strange and various noises. 

As to your questions, I will answer them particularly, but 
withal, I desire my answers may satisfy none but yourself, for I 
would not have the matter imparted to any. We had both man 
and maid now last Martinmas, yet I do not believe either of 

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EP WORTH RECTORY 

them occasioned the disturbance, both for the reason above 
mentioned and because they were more affrighted than any- 
body else. Besides, we have often heard the noises when they 
were in the room by us; and the maid particularly was in such 
a panic, that she was almost incapable of all business, nor durst 
ever go from one room to another, or stay by herself a minute 
after it began to be dark. 

The man, Robert Brown, whom you well know, was most 
visited by it lying in the garret, and has been often frighted 
down barefoot and almost naked, not daring to stay alone to 
put on his clothes, nor do I think if he had power he would be 
guilty of such villainy. When the walking was heard in the gar- 
ret Robert was in bed in the next room, in a sleep so sound, 
that he hever heard your father and me walk up and down, 
though we walked not softly, I am sure. All the family has 
heard it together, in the same room, at the same time, particu- 
larly at family prayers. It always seemed to all present in the 
same place at the same time, though often before any could say 
it was here, it would remove to another place. 

All the family, as well as Robin, were asleep when your 
father and I went downstairs, nor did they wake in the nursery 
when we held the candle close by them, only we observed that 
Hetty trembled exceedingly in her sleep, as she always did be- 
fore the noise awaked her. It commonly was nearer her than 
the rest, which she took notice of, and was much frightened, 
because she thought it had a particular spite at her: I could 
multiply particular instances, but I forbear. I believe your 
father will write to you about it shortly. Whatever may be the 
design of Providence in permitting these things, I cannot say. 
Secret things belong to God', but I entirely agree with you, that 
it is our wisdom and duty to prepare seriously for all events. 

S. Wesley 

LETTER V— FROM MISS SUSANNAH WESLEY TO 
HER BROTHER SAMUEL 


Dear Brother, 

About the first of December a most terrible and astonishing 
noise was heard by a maid-servant as at the dining-room door, 
i 161 s.p. 



EPWORTH RECTORY 

which caused the upstarting of her hair, and made her ears 
prick forth at an unusual rate. She said it was like the groans of 
one expiring. These so frightened her, that for a great while 
she durst not go out of one room into another, after it began to 
be dark, without company. But, to lay aside jesting, which 
should not be done in serious matters, I assure you that from 
the first to the last of a lunar month the groans, squeaks, ting- 
lings, and knockings were frightful enough. 

Though it is needless for me to send you any account of 
what we all heard, my father himself having a larger account 
of the matter than I am able to give, which he designs to send 
you, yet, in compliance with your desire, I will tell you as 
briefly as I can what I heard of it. The first night I ever heard 
it my sister Nancy and I were set in the dining-room. We 
heard something rush on the outside of the doors that opened 
into the garden, then three loud knocks, immediately after 
other three, and in half a minute the same number over our 
heads. We enquired whether anybody had been in the garden, 
or in the room above us, but there was nobody. Soon after my 
sister Molly and I were up after all the family were abed, ex- 
cept my sister Nancy, about some business. We heard three 
bouncing bumps under our feet, which soon made us throw 
away our work and tumble into bed. Afterwards the tingling of 
the latch and warming-pan, and so it took its leave that night. 

Soon after the above mentioned we heard a noise as if a 
great piece of sounding metal was thrown down on the outside 
of our chamber. We, lying in the quietest part of the house, 
heard less than the rest for a pretty while, but the latter end of 
the night Mr. Hoole sat up on I lay in the nursery, where it 
was very violent. I then heard frequent knocks over and under 
the room where I lay, and at the children’s bed head, which 
was made of boards. It seemed to rap against it very hard and 
loud, so that the bed shook under them. I heard something 
walk by my bedside, like a man in a long nightgown. The 
knocks were so loud, that Mr. Hoole came out of their chamber 
to us. It still continued. My father spoke, but nothing an- 
swered. It aided that night with my father’s particular knock 
very fierce. 

It is now pretty quiet, only at our repeating the prayers for 

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EP WORTH RECTORY 

the king and prince, when it usually begins, especially when 
my father says, ‘Our most gracious Sovereign Lord,’ etc. This 
my father is angry at, and designs to say three instead of two 
for the royal family. We all heard the same noise, and at the 
same time, and as coming from the same place. To conclude 
this, it now makes its personal appearance; but of this more 
hereafter. Do not say one word of this to our folks, nor give the 
least hint. 

I am, your sincere friend and affectionate sister, 

Susannah Wesley 

LETTER VI— MR. S. WESLEY IN ANSWER 

Dear Sister Suky, 

Your telling me the spirit has made its personal appearances 
without saying how, or to whom, or when, or how long, has 
excited my curiosity very much. I long mightily for a farther 
account of every circumstance by your next letter. Do not 
keep me any longer in the dark. Why need you write the less 
because my father is to send me the whole story. Has the dis- 
turbance continued since the 28th of December? I understand 
my father did not hear it at all but a fortnight after the rest. 
What did he say remarkable to any of you when he did hear it? 
As to the devil being an enemy to King George, were I the 
king myself I should rather Old Nick should be my enemy 
than my friend. I do not like the noise of the nightgown sweep- 
ing along the ground, nor its knocking like my father. Write 
when you receive this, though nobody else should, to your 
loving brother. 

LETTER VII— MR. S. WESLEY TO HIS MOTHER 

Dear Mother. 

You say you could multiply particular instances of the 
spirit’s noises, but I want to know whether nothing was ever 
seen by any. For though it is hard to, conceive, nay, morally 
impossible, that the hearing of so many people could be de- 
ceived, yet the truth will be still more manifest and undeniable 
if it is grounded on the testimony of two senses. Has it never at 

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EPWORTH RECTORY 

all disturbed you since the 28th of December? Did no circum- 
stance give no light into the design of the whole? 

Your obedient and loving son, 

S. Wesley 

Have you dug in the place where the money seemed poured 
at your feet? 


LETTER VIII — MR. S. WESLEY TO HIS FATHER 


February 12 

Honoured Sir, 

I have not yet received any answer to the letter I wrote some 
time ago, and my mother in her last seems to say that as yet I 
know but a very small part of the whole story of strange noises 
in our house. I shall be exceeding glad to have the entire ac- 
count from you. Whatever may be the main design of such 
wonders, I cannot think they were ever meant to be kept 
secret. If they bode anything remarkable to our family, I am 
sure I am a party concerned. 

Your dutiful son, 


S. Wesley 


LETTER IX— FROM MR. S. WESLEY TO HIS SISTER EMILY 

Dear Sister Emily, 

I wish you would let me have a letter from you about the 
spirit, as indeed from every one of my sisters. I cannot think 
any of you very superstitious, unless you are much changed 
since I saw you. My sister Hetty, I find, was more particularly 
troubled. Let me know all. Did anything appear to her? 

I am your affectionate brother, 

S. Wesley 

LETTER X— FROM OLD MR. WESLEY TO HIS SON SAMUEL 

Dear Sam, 

As for the noises, etc., in our family, I thank God we are now 
all quiet. There were some surprising circumstances in that 
affair. Your mother has not written you a third part of it. When 

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EPWORTH RECTORY 

I see you here, you shall see the whole account which I wrote 
down. It would make a glorious penny book for Jack Dunton, 
but while I live, I am not ambitious for anything of that nature. 
I think that’s all, but blessings, from your loving father, 

Sam Wesley 

The following letter I received at the same time, though it 
has no date: 

LETTER XI — FROM MISS EMILY WESLEY TO 
HER BROTHER SAMUEL • 

Dear Brother, 

I thank you for your last, and shall give you what satisfaction 
is in my power concerning what has happened in our family. 
I am so far from being superstitious that I was too much in- 
clined to infidelity, so that I heartily rejoice at having such an 
opportunity of convincing myself past doubt or scruple of the 
existence of some beings besides those we see. A whole month 
was sufficient to convince anybody of the reality of the thing, 
and to try all ways of discovering any trick, had it been possible 
for any such to have been used. I shall only tdl you what I my- 
self heard, and leave the rest to others. 

My sisters in the paper chamber had heard noises and told 
me of them, but I did not much believe, till one night, about a 
wed: after the first groans were heard, which was the begin- 
ning, just after the clock had struck ten I went downstairs to 
lock the doors, which I always do. Scarce had I got up the best 
stairs when I heard the noise, like a person throwing down a 
vast coal in the middle of the fore kitchen, hid all the splinters 
seemed to fly about from it. I was not much frighted, but went 
to my sister Suky, and we together went all over the low rooms, 
but there was nothing out of order. 

Our dog was fast asleep, and our only cat in the other end of 
the house. No sooner was I got upstairs, and undressing for 
bed, but I heard a noise among many bottles that stand under 
the best stairs, just like the throwing of a great stone among 
them, which had broke them all to pieces. This made me 
hasten to bed; but my sister Hetty, who sits always to wait on 
my father going to bed, was still sitting on the lowest step on 

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EPWORTH RECTORY 

the garret stairs, the door being shut at her back, when soon 
after there came down the stairs behind her something like a 
man., in a loose nightgown trailing after him, which made her 
fly rather than run to me in the nursery. 

All this time we never told our father of it, but soon after we 
did. He smiled and gave no answer, but was more careful than 
usual, from that time, to see us in bed, imagining it to be some 
of us young women, that sat up late and made a noise. His 
incredulity, and especially his imputing it to us, or our lovers, 
made me, I own, desirous of its continuance till he was con- 
vinced. As for my mother, she firmly believed it to be rats, 
and sent for a horn to blow them away. I laughed to think how 
wisely they were employed, who were striving half a day to 
fright away Jeffery, for that name I gave it, with a horn. 

But whatever it was, I perceived it could be made angry. 
For from that time it was so outrageous, there was no quiet for 
us after ten at night. I heard frequently, between ten and 
eleven, something like the quick winding up of a jack in the 
comer of the room by my bed’s head, just like the running of 
the wheels and the creaking of the iron-work. This was the 
common signal of its coming. Then it would knock on the floor 
three times, then at my sister’s bed head, in the same room, 
almost always three together, and then stay. The sound was 
hollow and loud, so as none of us could ever imitate. 

It would answer to my mother if she stamped on the floor 
and bid it. It would knock when I was putting the children to 
bed, just under me where I sat. One time little Kesy, pretend- 
ing to scare Patty as I was undressing them, stamped with her 
foot on the floor, and immediately it answered with three 
knocks, just in the same place. It was more loud and fierce if 
anyone said it was rats or any thing natural. 

I could tell you abundance more of it, but the rest will write, 
and therefore it would be needless. I was not much frighted at 
first, and very little at last; but it was never near me, except 
two or three times, and never followed me, as it did my sister 
Hetty. I have been with her when it has knocked under her, 
and when she has removed has followed and still kept just 
mider her feet, which was enough to terrify a stouter person. 

If you would know my opinion of the reason of lids, I shall 

1 66 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

briefly tell you. I believe it to be witchcraft, for these reasons. 
About a year since there was a disturbance at a town near us 
that was undoubtedly witches, and if so near, why may they 
not reach us? Then my father had for several Sundays before 
its coming preached warmly against those that are called 
cunning men, which our people are given to; and it had a 
particular spite at my father. 

Besides something was thrice seen. The first time by me 
that was discernible. The same creature was sat by the dining- 
room fire one evening; when our man went into the room, it run 
by him, through the hall under the stairs. He followed with a 
candle and searched, but it was departed. The last time he saw 
it in the kitchen like a white rabbit, which seems likely to be 
some witch; and I do so really believe it to be one, that I would 
venture to fire a pistol at it if I saw it long enough. It has been 
heard by me and others since December. I have filled up all my 
room, and have only time to tell you I am your loving sister, 

Emilia Wesley 

LETTER XII— MISS SUSANNAH WESLEY TO HER 
BROTHER SAMUEL 

Dear Brother Wesley, 

I should farther satisfy you concerning the disturbances, but 
it is needless, because my sisters Emilia and Hetty write so 
particularly about it. One thing I believe you do not know — 
that is, last Sunday, to my father’s no small amazement, his 
trencher danced upon the table a pretty while, without any- 
body’s stirring the table. When lo! an adventurous wretch took 
it up, and spoiled the sport, for it remained still ever after. 
How glad should I be to talk with you about it. Send me some 
news, for we are secluded from the sight, or hearing, of any 
versal thing except Jeffery. Susannah Wesley 

A PASSAGE IN A LETTER FROM MY MOTHER TO ME, 
DATED MARCH 27TH, I717 

I cannot imagine how you should be so curious about our 
unwelcome guest. For my part I am quite tired with hearing 

167 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

or speaking of it; but if you come among us, you will find 
pnnngh to satisfy all your scruples, and perhaps may hear or 

see it yourself. S . Wesley 

A PASSAGE IN A LETTER FROM MY SISTER EMILY TO 
MR. M. BORRY, DATED APRIL I 

Tell my brother the spright was with us last night, and 
heard by many of our family, especially by our maid and my- 
self. She sat up with drink, and it came just at one o’clock and 
opened the dining-room door. After some time it shut again. 
She saw as well as heard it both shut and open; then it began to 
knock as usual. But I dare write no longer, lest I should hear it. 

Emilia Wesley 


MY FATHER’S JOURNAL, OR DIARY, 
TRANSCRIBED BY MY BROTHER JACK, 
AUGUST 27, 1726, AND FROM HIM BY ME, 
FEBRUARY 7, 1730-1 


An Account of Noises and Disturbances in my House 
at Epworth , Lincolnshire, in December and January 

1716 


From the 1st of December, my children and servants heard 
many strange noises, groans, knockings, etc., in every story 
and most of the rooms of my house, but I hearing nothing of 
it myself— they would not tell me for some time, because, 
according to the vulgar opinion, if it boded any ill to me I 
could not hear it. When it increased, and the family could not 
easily conceal it, they told me of it. 

My daughters, Susannah and Ann, were below stairs in the 
dining-room, and heard first at the doors, then over their 

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heads, and the night after a knocking under their feet, though 
nobody was in the chambers or below them. The like they and 
my servants heard in both the kitchens, at the door against the 
partition, and over them. The maid-servant heard groans as of 
a dying man. My daughter Emilia c omin g downstairs to draw 
up the clock and lock the doors at ten o’clock at night, as usual, 
heard under the staircase a sound among some bottles there, 
as if they had been all dashed to pieces; but when she looked, 
all was safe. 

Something, like the steps of a man, was heard going up and 
downstairs at all hours of the night, and vast rumblings below 
stairs and in the garrets. My man, who lay in the garret, heard 
someone come slaring through the garret to his chamber, 
rattling by his side as if against his shoes, though he had none 
there; at other times walking up and downstairs, when all the 
house were in bed, and gobbling like a turkey-cock. Noises 
were heard in the nursery and all the other chambers; knocking 
first at the feet of the bed and behind it; and a sound like that 
of dancing in a matted chamber, next the nursery, when the 
door was locked and nobody in it. 

My wife would have persuaded them it was rats within 
doors, and some unlucky people knocking without; till at last 
we heard several loud knocks in our own chamber, on my side 
of the bed; but till, I think, the 21st at night I heard nothing of 
it. That night I was waked a little before one by nine distinct 
very loud knocks, which seemed to be in the next room to ours, 
with a sort of pause at every third stroke. I thought it might be 
somebody without the house, and having got a stout mastiff, 
hoped he would soon rid me of it. 

The next night I heard six knocks, but not so loud as the 
former. I know not whether it was in the morning after Sun- 
day, the 23rd, when about seven my daughter Emily called her 
mother into the nursery, and told her she might now hear the 
noises there. She went in, and heard it at the bedsteads, and 
then under the beds, then at the head of it. She knocked, and it 
answered her. She looked under the bed, and thought some- 
thing ran from thence, but could not well tell of what shape, 
but thought it most like a badger. 

The next night but one we were awaked about one by the 

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noises, which were so violent it was in vain to think of sleep 
while they continued. I rose, but my wife would rise with me. 
We went into every chamber and downstairs; and generally as 
we went into one room, we heard it in that behind us, though 
all the family had been in bed several hours. When we were 
going downstairs, and at the bottom of them, we heard, as 
Emily had done before, a clashing among the bottles, as if 
they had been broke all to pieces, and another sound distinct 
from it, as if a piece of money had been thrown before us. The 
same, three of my daughters heard at another time. 

We went through the hall into the kitchen, when our mastiff 
came whining to us, as he did always after the first night of its 
coming; for then he barked violently at it, but was silent after- 
wards, and seemed more afraid than any of the children. We 
still heard it rattle and thunder in every room above or behind 
us, locked as well as open, except my study, where as yet it 
never came. After two we went to bed, and were pretty quiet 
the rest of the night. 

Wednesday night, December 2 6, after or a little before ten, 
my daughter Emilia heard the signal of its beginning to play, 
with which she was perfectly acquainted; it was like the strong 
winding up of a jack. She called us, and I went into the nursery 
where it used to be most violent. The rest of the children were 
asleep. It began with knocking in the kitchen underneath, then 
seemed to be at the bed’s feet, then under the bed, and last at 
the head of it. I went downstairs, and knocked with my stick 
against the joists of the kitchen. It answered me as often and as 
loud as I knocked; but then I knocked, as I usually do, at my 
door, 1 — 23456 — 7, but this puzzled it, and it did not answer, 
or not in the same method, though the children heard it do 
the same twice or thrice after. 

I went upstairs and found it still knocking hard, though 
with some respite, sometimes under the bed, sometimes at the 
bed’s head. I observed my children that they were frightened 
in their sleep, and trembled very much till it waked them. I 
stayed there alone, bid them go to sleep, and sat at the bed’s 
head by them, when the noise began again. I asked what it 
was, and why it disturbed innocent children, and did not come 
to me in my study if it had anything to say to me. Soon after 

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it gave one knock on the outside of the house. All the rest were 
within, and knocked off for that night. 

I went out of doors, sometimes alone, at others with com- 
pany, and walked round the house, but could see or hear 
nothing. Several nights the latch of our lodging chamber 
would be lifted up very often when all were in bed. One night, 
when the noise was great in the kitchen, and on a deal parti- 
tion, and the door in the yard, the latch whereof was often 
lifted up, my daughter Emilia went and held it fast on the 
inside, but it was still lifted up, and the door pushed violently 
against her, though nothing was to be seen on die outside. 

When we were at prayers and came to the prayer for King 
George and the prince it would make a great noise over our 
heads constantly, whence some of the family called it a Jacob- 
ite. I have been thrice pushed by an invisible power, once 
against the comer of my desk in the study, a second time 
against the door of the matted chamber, a third time against 
the right side of the frame of my study door as I was going in. 

I followed the noise into almost every room in the house, 
both by day and by night, with lights and without, and have 
sat alone for some time, and when I heard a noise, spoke to it 
to tell me what it was, but never heard any articulate voice, 
and only once or twice two or three feeble squeaks, a little 
louder than the chirping of a bird, but not like the noise of 
rats, which I have often heard. 

I had designed on Friday, December the 28th, to make a 
visit to a friend, Mr. Downs, at Normandy, and stay some days 
with him, but the noises were so boisterous on Thursday 
night that I did not care to leave my family. So I went to Mr. 
Hoole of Haxey, and desired his company on Friday night. 
He came, and it began after ten, a little later than ordinary. 
The younger children were gone to bed, the rest of the family 
and Mr. Hoole were together in the matted chamber. I sent the 
servants down to fetch in some fuel, went with them, and staid 
in the kitchen till they came in. When they were gone I heard 
loud noises against the doors and partition, and at length the 
usual signal, though somewhat after the time. I had never 
heard it before, but knew it by the description my daughter 
had given me. It was much like the turning of a windmill 

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when the wind changes. When the servants returned I went up 
to the company, who had heard the other noises below, but 
not the signal. We heard all the knockings as usual from one 
chamber to another, but at its going off, like the rubbing of a 
beast against the wall, but from that time till January the 24th 
we were quiet. 

Having received a letter from Samuel the day before relating 
to it, I read what I had written of it to my family, and this day 
at morning prayer the family heard the usual knocks at the 
prayer for the king. At night they were more distinct, both 
in the prayer for the king and that for the prince, and one very 
loud knock at the amen was heard by my wife and most of my 
children at the inside of my bed. I heard nothing myself. After 
nine, Robert Brown, sitting alone by the fire in the back kit- 
chen, saw something come out of the copper-hole like a rabbit, 
but less, and turned round five times very swiftly. Its ears lay 
flat upon its neck, and its little scut stood straight up. He ran 
after it with the tongs in his hands, but when he could find 
nothing he was frighted, and went to the maid in the parlour. 

On Friday, the 25th, having prayers at church, I shortened 
as usual those in the family at morning, omitting the confes- 
sion, absolution, and prayers for the king and prince. I ob- 
served when this is done there is no knocking. I therefore used 
them one morning for a trial; at the name of King George it 
began to knock, and did the same when I prayed for the 
prince. Two knocks I heard, but took no notice after prayers, 
till after all who were in the room, ten persons besides me, 
spoke of it, and said they heard it. No noise at all at the rest of 
the prayers. 

Sunday, January 27 . — Two soft strokes at the mornin g 
prayers for King George above stairs. 

ADDENDA TO AND FROM MY FATHER’S DIARY 

Friday, December 21 . — Knocking I heard first, I think, this 
night; to which disturbances, I hope, God will in His good 
time put an end. 

Sunday, December 23 . — Not much disturbed with the 
noises that are now grown customary to me. 

172 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

Wednesday , December 26. — Sat up to hear noises. Strange! 
spoke to it, knocked off. 

Friday 28. — The noises very boisterous and disturbing 
this night. 

Saturday 29. — Not frighted with the continued disturb- 
ances of my family. 

Tuesday , January 1, 1717. — My family have had no dis- 
turbance since I went. 

MEMORANDUM OF JACK’S 

The first time my mother ever heard any unusual noise at 
Epworth was long before the disturbance of Old Jeffery. My 
brother, lately come from London, had one evening a sharp 
quarrel with my sister Suky, at which time my mother hap- 
pened to be above in her own chamber, the door and windows 
rung and jarred very loud, and presently several distinct 
strokes, three by three, were struck. From that night it never 
failed to give notice in much the same manner against any 
signal misfortune or illness of any belonging to the family . 


SUMMARY OF THE PHENOMENA 


Of the general circumstances which follow, most, if not 
all, the Family were frequent Witnesses 


x. Presently after any noise was heard the wind commonly 
rose, and whistled very loud round the house, and increased 
with it. 

2. The signal was given, which my father likens to the 
turning round of a windmill when the wind changes; Mr. 
Hoole (Rector of Haxey) to the planing of deal boards; my 
sister, to the swift winding up of a jack. It commonly began at 
the comer of the top of the nursery. 

173 





EPWORTH RECTORY 

3. Before it came into any room the latches were frequently 
lifted up, the windows clattered, and whatever iron or brass 
was about the chamber rung and jarred exceedingly. 

4. When it was in any room, let them make what noise they 
would, as they sometimes did on purpose, its dead, hollow 
note would be closely heard above them all. 

5. It constantly knocked while the prayers for the king 
and prince were repeating, and was plainly heard by all in the 
room but my father, and sometimes by him, as were also the 
thundering knocks at the amen. 

6. The sound very often seemed in the air in the middle of 
a room, nor could they ever make any such themselves by any 
contrivance. 

7. Though it seemed to rattle down the pewter, to clap the 
doors, draw the curtains, kick the man’s shoes up and down, 
etc., yet it never moved anything except the latches, otherwise 
than making it tremble; unless once, when it threw open the 
nursery door. 

8. The mastiff, though he barked violently at it the first day 
he came, yet whenever it came after that, nay, sometimes be- 
fore the family perceived it, he ran whining, or quite silent, to 
shelter himself behind some of the company. 

9. It never came by day till my mother ordered the horn to 
be blown. 

10. After that time scarce any one would go from one room 
into another but the latch of the room they went to was lifted 
up before they touched it. 

11. It never came once into my father’s study till he talked 
to it sharply, called it deaf and dumb devil , and bid it cease to 
disturb the innocent children, and come to him in his study if 
it had anything to say to him. 

12. From the time of my mother desiring it not to disturb 
her from five to six, it was never heard in her chamber from 
five till she came downstairs, nor at any other time when she 
was employed in devotion. 

13. Whether our clock went right or wrong, it always came 
as near as could be guessed when by the night it wanted a 
quarter often. 


174 



EPWORTH RECTORY 


STATEMENTS SUPPLIED TO JOHN WESLEY 


MRS. SAMUEL WESLEY’S STATEMENT TO HER SON JOHN 

August 27 , 1726 

About ten days after Nanny Marshall had heard unusual 
groans at the dining-room door, Emily came and told me that 
the servants and children had been several times frighted with 
strange groans and knockings about the house. I answered 
that the rats John Maw had frighted from his house by blow- 
ing a horn there were come into ours, and ordered that one 
should be sent for. Molly was much displeased at it, and said, 
if it was anything supernatural, it certainly would be very 
angry and more troublesome. However, the horn was blown 
in the garrets; and the effect was, that whereas before the 
noises were always in the night, from this time they were 
heard at all hours, day and night. 

Soon after, about seven in the morning, Emily came and 
desired me to go into the nursery, where I should be con- 
vinced they were not startled at nothing. On my coming 
thither I heard a knocking at the feet, and quickly after at the 
head of the bed. I desired if it was a spirit it would answer 
me, and knocking several times with my foot on the ground 
with several pauses, it repeated under the sole of my feet 
exacdy the same number of strokes, with the very same inter- 
vals. Kezzy, then six or seven years old, said, let it answer me 
too if it can, and stamping, the same sounds were returned 
that she made, many times, successively. 

Upon my looking under the bed something ran out pretty 
much like a badger and seemed to run directly underneath 
Emily’s petticoats, who sat opposite to me on the other side. I 
went out, and one or two nights afterwards, when we were just 
got to bed, I heard nine strokes, three by three, on the other side 
of the bed, as if one had struck violently on a chest with a large 
stick. Mr. Wesley leapt up, called Hetty, who alone was up in 
the house, and searched every room in the house, but to no 

175 




EPWORTH RECTORY 

purpose. It continued from this time to knock and groan fre- 
quently at all hours, day and night; only I earnestly desired it 
might not disturb me between five and six in the evening, and 
there never was any noise in my room after during that time. 

At other times I have often heard it over my mantel tree, 
and once, coming up after dinner, a cradle seemed to be 
strongly rocked in my chamber. When I went in the sound 
seemed to be in the nursery. When I was in the nursery it 
seemed to be in my chamber again. One night Mr. W. and I 
were waked by some one running down the garret stairs, then 
down the broad stairs, then up the narrow ones, then up the 
garret stairs, then down again, and so the same round. The 
rooms trembled as it passed along, and the doors shook ex- 
ceedingly, so that the clattering of the latches was very loud. 

Mr. W. proposing to rise, I rose with him, and went down 
the broad stairs, hand in hand, to light a candle. Near the foot 
of them a large pot of money seemed to be poured out at my 
waist, and to run jingling down my nightgown to my feet. 
Presently after we heard the noise as of a vast stone thrown 
among several dozen of bottles which lay under the stairs, but 
upon our looking no hurt was done. In the hall the mastiff met 
us, crying, and striving to get between us. We returned up 
into the nursery, where the noise was very great. The children 
were all asleep, but panting, trembling, and sweating extremely. 

Shortly after, on Mr. Wesley’s invitation, Mr Hoole staid 
a night with us. As we were all sitting round the fire in the 
matted chamber, he asked whether that gentle knocking was it. 
I told him yes, and it continued the sound, which was much 
lower than usual. This was observable whilst we were talking 
loud in the same room; the noise, seemingly lower than any of 
our voices, was distinctly heard above them all. These were the 
most remarkable passages I remember, except such as were 
c ommo n to all the family . 

MISS EMILY WESLEY’S ACCOUNT TO HER BROTHER JOHN 

About a fortnight after the time when, as I was told, the 
noises were heard, I went from my mother’s room, who had 
just gone to bed, to the best chamber to fetch my sister Suky’s 

176 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

candle. When I was there the windows and doors began to jar 
and ring exceedingly, and presently after I heard a sound in 
the kitchen, as if a vast stone coal had been thrown down and 
mashed to pieces. I went down thither with my candle, and 
found nothing more than usual; but as I was going by the 
screen, something began knocking on the other side, just even 
with my head. When I looked on the inside, the knocking was 
on the outside of it; but as soon as I could get round, it was at 
the inside again. I followed it to and fro several times, till at 
last, finding it to no purpose, and t urning about to go away, 
before I was out of the room the latch of the back kitchen door 
was lifted up many times. I opened the door and looked out, but 
could see nobody. I tried to shut the door, but it was thrust 
against me, and I could feel the latch, which I held in my hand, 
moving upwards at the same time. I looked out again, but find- 
ing it was labour lost, clapped the door to and locked it. Im- 
mediately the latch was moved strongly up and down, but I 
left it, and went up the worst stairs, from whence I heard as if a 
great stone had been thrown among the bottles, which lay under 
the best stairs. However, I went to bed. 

From this time I heard it every night for two or three weeks. 
It continued a month in its full majesty night and day. Then it 
intermitted a fortnight or more, and when it began again it 
knocked only on nights, and grew less and less troublesome, 
till at last it went quite away. Towards the latter end it used to 
knock on the outside of the house, and seemed farther and 
farther off, till it ceased to be heard at all. 

molly wesley’s account to her brother john 

August 2J 

I have always thought it was in November, the rest of our 
f amily think it was the ist of December 1716, when Nanny 
Marshall, who had a bowl of butter in her hand, ran to me and 
two or three more of my sisters in the dining-room, and told 
us she had heard several groans in the hall as of a dying man. 
We thought it was Mr. Turpine, who had the stone, and used 
sometimes to come and see us. About a fortnight after, when 
my sister Suky and I were going to bed, she told us how she 

M 177 S.P, 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

was frightened in the dining-room the day before by a noise, 
first at the folding-door, and then overhead. I was reading at 
the table, and had scarce told her I believed nothing of it, when 
several knocks were given just under my feet. We both made 
haste into bed, and just as we laid down the warming-pan by 
the bedside jarred and rung, as did the latch of the door, which 
was lifted slowly up and down; presently a great chain seemed 
to fall on the outside of the door (we were in the best chamber), 
the door latch hinges, the warming-pan, and windows jarred, 
and the house shook from top to bottom. 

A few days after, between five and six in the evening, I was 
by myself in the dining-room. The door seemed to open, 
though it was still shut, and somebody walked in, a nightgown 
tr ailing upon the ground (nothing appearing), and seemed to 
go leisurely round me. I started up and ran upstairs to my 
mother’s chamber, and told the story to her and my sister 
Emily. A few nights after my father ordered me to light him to 
his study. Just as he had unlocked it the latch was lifted up for 
him. The same (after we blew the horn) was often done to me, 
as well by day as by night. Of many other things all the family 
as well as me were witnesses. 

My father went into the nursery from the matted chamber, 
where we were, by himself in the dark. It knocked very loud 
on the press bed head. He adjured it to tell him why it came, 
but it seemed to take no notice; at which he was very angry, 
spoke sharply, called it deaf and dumb devil, and repeated his 
adjuration. My sisters were terribly afraid it would speak. 
When he had done, it knocked his knock on the bed’s head so 
exceedingly violently, as if it would break it to shivers, and 
from that time we heard nothing till near a month after. 

SUSANNAH WESLEY’S ACCOUNT TO HER BROTHER JOHN 

I believed nothing of it till about a fortnight after the first 
noises, then one night I sat up on purpose to hear it. While I 
was working in the best chamber, and earnestly desiring to 
hear it, a knocking began just under my feet. As I knew the 
room below me was locked I was frighted, and leaped into bed 
with all my clothes on. I afterwards heard, as it were, a great 

178 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

chain fell, and after some time the usual noises at all hours of 
the day and night. One night, hearing it was most violent in 
the nursery, I resolved to lie there. Late at night several strong 
knocks were given on the two lowest steps of the garret stairs, 
which were close to the nursery door. The latch of the door 
then jarred, and seemed to be swiftly moved to and fro, and 
presently began knocking about a yard within the room on the 
floor. It then came gradually to ( sister Hetty’s bed, who 
trembled strongly in her sleep. It beat very loud three strokes 
at a time on the bed’s head. My father came and adjured it to 
speak, but it knocked on for some time, and then removed to 
the room over, where it knocked my father’s knock on the 
ground, as if it would beat the house down. I had no mind to 
stay longer, but got up and went to sister Em and my mother, 
who were in her room, from whence he heard the noises again 
from the nursery. I proposed playing a game of cards, but we 
had scarce begun when a knocking began under our feet. We 
left off playing, and it removed back again into the nursery, 
where it continued till towards morning. 

NANCY WESLEY’S ACCOUNT TO HER BROTHER JOHN, 

AS RECORDED BY SAMUEL WESLEY 

September io 

The first noise my sister Nancy heard was in the best cham- 
ber with my sister Molly and my sister Suky; soon after my 
father had ordered her to blow a horn in the garrets, where it 
was knocking violently. She was terribly afraid, being obliged 
to go in the dark, and kneeling down on the stairs desired that, 
as she acted not to please herself, it might have no power over 
her. As soon as she came into the room the noise ceased, nor 
did it begin again till near ten; but then, and for a good while, 
it made much greater and more frequent noises than it had 
done before. When she afterwards came into the chamber in 
the day time it co mm only walked after her from room to room. 
It followed her from one side of the bed to the other and back 
again, as often as she went back, and whatever she did which 
made any sort of noise, the same thing seemed just to be done 
behind her. 


179 



EPWORTH RECTORY 

When five or six were set in the nursery together a cradle 
would seem to be strongly rocked in the room over, though no 
cradle had ever been there. One night she was sitting on the 
press bed playing at cards with some of my sisters, when my 
sisters Molly, Hetty, Patty, and Kezzy were in the room, and 
Robert Brown. The bed on which my sister Nancy sat was 
lifted up with her on it. She leaped down and said, ‘Surely Old 
Jeffery would not run away with her.’ However, they per- 
suaded her to sit down again, which she had scarce done 
when it was again lifted up several times successively a consider- 
able height, upon which she left her seat and would not be 
prevailed upon to sit there any more. 

Whenever they began to mention Mr. S. it presently began 
to knock, and continued to do so till they changed the dis- 
course. All the time my sister Suky was writing her last letter 
to him it made a very great noise all round the room, and the 
night after she set out for London it knocked till morning with 
scarce any intermission. 

Mr. Hoole read prayers once, but it knocked as usual at the 
prayers for the king and prince. The knockings at these 
prayers were only towards the beginning of the disturbance, 
for a week or thereabouts. 

THE REV. MR. HOOLE’S 1 ACCOUNT 

September 16 

As soon as I came to Hepworth, Mr. Wesley te lling me he 
soit for me to conjure, I knew not what he meant, till some 
of your sisters told me what had happened, and that I was sent 
for to sit up. I expected every hour to hear something extra- 
ordinary, but to no purpose. At supper too, and at prayers, all 
was silent, contrary to custom, but soon after one of the maids, 
who went up to sheet a bed, brought down the alarm that 
Jeffery was come above stairs. We all went up, and as we were 
standing round the fire in the east chamber something began 
knocking just on the other side of the wall, on the chimney- 
piece, as with a key. Presently the knocking was under our feet. 
Mr. Wesley and I went down, he with a great deal of hope, and 

1 Vicar ofHaxey. 

180 



EPWORTH RECTORY 

I with fear. As soon as we were in the kitchen the sound was 
above us, in the room we had left. We returned up the narrow 
stairs, and heard, at the broad stairs head, some one slaring 
with their feet (all the family being now in bed beside us) and 
then trailing, as it were, and rus tling with a silk nightgown. 
Quickly it was in the nursery, at the bed’s head, knocking as it 
had done at first, three by three. Mr. Wesley spoke to it and 
said he believed it was the devil, and soon after it knocked at 
the window, and changed its sound into one like the planing 
of boards. From thence it went on the outward south side 
of the house, sounding fainter and fainter, till it was heard no 
more. 

I was at no other time than this during the noises at Epworth, 
and do not now remember any more circumstances than these. 

[NOTE B.Y JOHN WESLEY] 

Epworth , September I 

My sister Kezzy says she remembers nothing else, but that 
it knocked my father’s knock, ready to beat the house down in 
the nursery one night. 

ROBIN BROWN’S ACCOUNT TO JOHN WESLEY, AS 
RECORDED BY SAMUEL WESLEY 

The first time Robin Brown, my father’s man, heard it, was 
when he was fetching down some com from the garrets. 
Something knocked on a door just by him, which made him 
run away downstairs. From that time it used frequently to 
visit him in bed, walking up the garret stairs, and in the 
garrets, like a man in jack-boots, with a nightgown trailing 
after him, then lifting up his latch and making it jar, and 
making presently a noise in his room like the gobbling of a 
turkey-cock, then stumbling over his boots or shoes by the 
bedside. He was resolved once to be too hard for it, and so took 
a large mastiff we had just got to bed with him, and left his 
shoes and boots below stairs; but he might as well have spared 
his labour, for it was exactly the same thing whether any were 
there or no. The same sound was heard as if there had been 

181 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

forty pairs. The dog indeed was no great comfort to him, for as 
soon as the latch began to jar he crept into bed, made such a 
howling and barking together, in spite of all the man could do, 
that he alarmed most of the family. 

Soon after, being grinding com in the garrets, and happen- 
ing to stop a little, the handle of the mill was turned round 
with great swiftness. He said nothing vexed him but that the 
mill was empty. If com had been in it. Old Jeffery might have 
ground his heart out for him; he would never have disturbed 
him. 

One nighty being ill, he was leaning his head upon the back 
kitchen chimney (the jam he called it) with the tongs in his 
hands, when from behind the oven’s top, which lay by the fire, 
something came out like a white rabbit. It turned round before 
him several times, and then ran to the same place again. He 
was frighted, started up, and ran with the tongs into the par- 
lour (dining-room). 


Epworth, August 31 

Betty Massy one day came to me in the parlour and asked 
me if I had heard Old Jeffery, for she said she thought there 
was no such thing. When we had talked a little about it, I 
knocked three times with a reel I had in my hand against the 
dining-room ceiling, and the same were presently repeated. 
She desired me to knock so again, which I did, but they were 
answered with three more so violently as shook the house, 
though no one was in the chamber over us. She prayed me to 
knock no more for fear it should come in to us. 

Epworth, August 31, 1726 

John and Kitty Maw, who lived over against us, listened 
several nights in the time of the disturbance, but could never 
hear anything. 


182 



EP WORTH RECTORY 


NARRATIVE DRAWN UP BY JOHN WESLEY, 
AND PUBLISHED BY HIM IN ‘THE 
ARMINIAN MAGAZINE’ 


When I was very young I heard several letters read, wrote to 
my elder brother by my father, giving an account of strange 
disturbances which were in his house at Epworth, in Lincoln- 
shire. 

When I went down thither, in the year 1720, I carefully 
enquired into the particulars. I spoke to each of the persons 
who were then in the house, and took down what each could 
testify of his or her knowledge. The sum of which was this: 

On December 2, 1716, while Robert Brown, my father’s 
servant, was sitting with one of the maids a little before ten at 
night in the dining-room, which opened into the garden, they 
both heard knocking at the door. Robert rose and opened it, 
but could see nobody. Quickly it knocked again and groaned. 
‘It is Mr. Turpine,’ said Robert. ‘He has the stone, and uses 
to groan so.’ We opened the door again twice or thrice, the 
knocking being twice or thrice repeated. But still seeing no- 
thing, and being a little startled, they rose and went to bed. 
When Robert came to the top of the garret stairs he saw a 
hand-mill, which was at a little distance, whirled about very 
swiftly. When he related all this he said, ‘Nought vexed me but 
that it was empty. I thought if it had been full of malt he might 
have ground out his heart for me.’ When he was in bed he 
heard, as it were, the gobbling of a turkey-cock close to the 
bedside; and soon after the sound of one stumbling over his 
shoes and boots, but there were none there; he had left them 
below. The next day he and the maid related these thin g s to the 
other maid, who laughed heartily and said, ‘What a couple of 
fools are you! I defy anything to fright me.’ After churning in 
the evening she put the butter in the tray, and had no sooner 
carried it into the dairy than she heard a knocking on the shelf 
where several puncheons of milk stood, first above the shelf 

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EP WORTH RECTORY 

and then below; she took the candle and searched both above 
and below; but being able to find nothing, threw down 
butter, tray, and all, and ran away for life. The next evening 
between five and six o’clock, my sister, Molly, then about 
twenty years of age, sitting in the dining-room reading, heard 
as it were the door that led into the hall open and a person 
walking in, that seemed to have on a silk nightgown, rustling 
and trailing along. It seemed to walk round her, then to the 
door, then round again; but she could see nothing. She thought 
‘It signifies nothing to run away; for whatever it is, it can run 
faster than me.’ Presently a knocking began under the table. 
She took the candle and looked, but could find nothing. Then 
the iron casement began to clatter and the lid of a warming-pan. 
Next the latch of the door moved up and down without ceas- 
ing. She started up, leaped into her bed without undressing, 
pulled the bed-clothes over her head, and never ventured to 
look up till next morning. A night or two after, my sister Hetty, 
a year younger than my sister Molly, was waiting as usual, 
between nine and ten, to take away my father’s candle, when 
she heard someone coming down the garret stairs, walking 
slowly by her, then going down the best stairs, then up the 
back stairs, and up the garret stairs. And at every step it 
seemed the house shook from top to bottom. Just then my 
father knocked. She went in, took his candle, and got to bed as 
fast as possible. She told this to my eldest sister in the morn- 
ing, who told her, ‘You know, I believe none of these things. 
Pray let me take away the candle to-night and I will find out 
the trick.’ She accordingly took my sister Hetty’s place, and 
had no sooner taken away the candle than she heard a noise 
below. She hastened downstairs to the hall where the noise 
was. But it was then in the kitchen. She ran into the kitchen, 
where it was drumming on the inside of the screen. When she 
went round it was drumming on the outside, and so always on 
the side opposite to her. Then she heard a knocking at the back 
kitchen door. She ran to it, unlocked it softly, and when the 
knocking was repeated, suddenly opened it; but no thing was to 
be seen. As soon as she had shut it the knocking began again; 
she opened it again, but could see nothing; when she went to 
shut the door it was violently thrust against her; she let it fly 

184 



EPWORTH RECTORY 

open, but nothing appeared. She went again to shut it, and it 
was again thrust against her; but she set her knee and her 
shoulder to the door, forced it to, and turned the key. Then 
the knocking began again; but she let it go on, and went up to 
bed. However, from that time she was thoroughly convinced 
that there was no imposture in the affair. 

The next morning my sister, telling my mother what had 
happened, she said, ‘If I hear anythin g myself, I shall know 
how to judge.’ Soon after she begged her to come into the 
nursery. She did, and heard in the comer of the room, as it 
werej the violent rocking of a cradle, but no cradle had been 
there for some years. She was convinced it was preternatural, 
and earnestly prayed it might not disturb her in her own 
chamber at the hours of retirement; and it never did. She now 
thought it was proper to tell my father. But he was extremely 
angry, and said, ‘Suky, I am ashamed of you; these boys and 
girls frighten one another, but you are a woman of sense and 
should know better. Let me hear of it no more.’ At six in the 
evening he had family prayers as usual. When he began the 
prayer for the king, a knocking began all round the room, and a 
thundering knock attended the ‘Amen’. The same was heard 
from this time every morning and evening while the prayer for 
the king was repeated. As both my father and mother are now 
at rest and incapable of being pained thereby, I think it my 
duty to furnish the serious reader with a key to this circum- 
stance. 

The year before King William died my father observed my 
mother did not say ‘Amen’ to the prayer for the king. She said 
she could not, for she did not believe the Prince of Orange was 
king. He vowed he would never cohabit with her till she did. 
He then took his horse and rode away, nor did she hear any- 
thing of him for a twelvemonth. He then came bad: and lived 
with her as before. But I fear his vow was not forgotten before 
God. 

Being informed that Mr. Hoole, the vicar of Haxey (an 
emine ntly pious and sensible man), could give me some further 
information, I walked over to him. He said, ‘Robert Brown 
came over to me and told me your father desired my company. 
When I came he gave me an account of all that had happened, 

185 



EPWORTH RECTORY 

particularly the knocking during family prayer. But that 
evening (to my great satisfaction) we had no knocking at all. 
But between nine and ten a servant came in and said, “Old 
Ferries is coming” (that was the name of one that died in the 
house), “for I hear the signal.” This they informed us was 
heard every night about a quarter before ten. It was toward the 
top of the house on the outside, at the north-east comer, 
resembling the loud creaking of a saw, or rather that of a wind- 
mill when the body of it is turned about in order to shift the 
sails to the wind. We then heard a knocking over our heads, and 
Mr. Wesley, catching up a candle, said, “Come, sir, you shall 
now hear for yourself.” We went upstairs, he with much hope, 
and I (to say the truth) with much fear. When we came into 
the nursery it was knocking in the next room; when we were 
there it was knocking in the nursery. And there it continued 
to knock, though we came in, particularly at the head of the 
bed (which was of wood) in which Miss Hetty and two of her 
younger sisters lay. Mr. Wesley, observing that they were 
much affected, though asleep, sweating and trembling exceed- 
ingly, was very angry, and, pulling out a pistol, was going to 
fire at the place from whence the sound came. But I catched 
him by the arm and said, “ Sir, you are convinced this is soxpe- 
thing preternatural. If so, you cannot hurt it, but you give it 
power to hurt you.” He then went close to the place and said 
sternly, “Thou deaf and dumb devil, why dost thou frighten 
these children that cannot answer for themselves? Come to me 
to my study that am a man!” Instantly it knocked his knock 
(the particular knock which he always used at the gate) as if it 
would shiver the board in pieces, and we heard nothin g more 
that night.’ Till this time my father had never heard the least 
disturbance in his study. But the next evening, as he attempted 
to go out into this study (of which none had any key but him- 
self), when he opened the door it was thrust back with such 
violence as had like to have thrown him down. However, he 
thrust the door open and went in. Presently there was knock- 
ing, first on one side, then on the other, and after a time in the 
next room, wherein my sister Nancy was. He went into that 
room, and (the noise continuing) adjured it to speak; but in 
vain. He then said, ‘These spirits love darkness; put out the 

186 , 



EPWORTH RECTORY 

candle, and perhaps it will speak.’ She did so, and he repeated 
his adjuration; but still there was only knocking, and no articu- 
late sound. Upon this he said, ‘Nancy, two Christians are an 
overmatch for the devil. Go all of you downstairs; it may be 
when I am alone he will have courage to speak.’ When she was 
gone a thought came in and he said, ‘If thou are the spirit of 
my son Samuel, I pray, knock three knocks and no more.’ 
Immediately all was silence, and there was no more knocking 
at all that night. I asked my sister Nancy (then about fifteen 
years old) whether she was not afraid when my father used 
that adjuration? She answered she was sadly afraid it would 
speak when she put out the candle; but she was not at all afraid 
in the daytime, when it walked after her, as she swept the 
chambers, as it constantly did, and seemed to sweep after her. 
Only she thought it might have done it for her, and saved her 
the trouble. By this time all my sisters were so accustomed to 
these noises that they gave them little disturbance. A gentle 
tapping at their bed head usually began between nine and ten 
at night. They then commonly said to each other, ‘Jeffery is 
coming, it is time to go to sleep.’ And if they heard a noise in 
the day and said to my youngest sister, ‘Hark, Kezzy, Jeffery 
is knocking above,’ she would run upstairs, and pursue it from 
room to room, saying she desired no better diversion. 

A few nights after, my father and mother were just gone to 
bed, and the candle was not taken away, when they heard 
three blows and a second, and a third three, as it were with a 
large oaken staff, struck upon a chest which stood by the bed- 
side. My father immediately arose, put on his nightgown, and 
hearing great noises below, took the candle and went down; 
my mother walked by his side. As they went down the broad 
stairs they heard as if a vessel full of silver was poured upon 
my mother’s breast and ran jin gling down to her feet. Quickly 
after there was a sound, as if a large iron ball was thrown 
among many botdes under the stairs; but nothing was hurt. 
Soon after, our large mastiff dog came and ran to shelter him- 
self between them. While the disturbances continued he used 
to bark and leap, and snap on one side and the other, and that 
frequently before any person in the room heard any noise at 
all. But after two or three days he used to tremble and creep 

187 



EP WORTH RECTORY 

away before the noise began. And by this the family knew it 
was at hand, nor did the observation ever fail. A little before 
my father and mother came into the hall it seemed as if a very 
large coal was violently thrown upon the floor and dashed all 
to pieces, but nothing was seen. My father then cried out, 
‘Suky, do you not hear? All the pewter is thrown about the 
kitchen. 9 But when they looked all the pewter was in its place. 
Then there was a loud knocking at the back door. My father 
opened it, but saw nothing. It was then at the front door. He 
opened that, but it was still lost labour. After opening first the 
one and then the other several times he turned and went up 
to bed. But the noises were so violent all over the house that he 
could not sleep till four in the morning. 

Several gentlemen and clergymen now earnestly advised 
my father to quit the house. But he constantly answered, ‘No, 
let the devil flee from me; I will never flee from the devil. 9 But 
he wrote to my eldest brother at London to come down. He 
was preparing to do so when another letter came, info rming 
him that the disturbances were over, after they had continued 
(the latter part of the time day and night) from the 2nd of 
December to the end of January. 



188 



2. THE HAUNTING OF WILLINGTON 
MILL 


Reprinted from. No. XCV, Vol. V, December 1892 , of the 
* Journal of the Society for Psychical Research * 


MR. JOSEPH PROCTER’S DIARY 

The ‘Haunted House at Willington’ has been a famili ar 
theme on Tyneside for half a century, and the general public 
have been made acquainted with it in William Howitt’s Visits 
to Remarkable Places, Catherine Crowe’s Night Side of Nature, 
The Local Historian’s Table Book, Stead’s Ghost Stories, and 
other publications. I was myself bom in this ‘haunted house’, 
and have vivid recollections of many singular occurrences. 
As my parents, however, ceased to reside there when I was but 
a child of seven, any evidence of my own can be but of trifling 
value. On my father’s death in 1875, a diary that he had kept 
almost from the outset of the disturbances, and during many 
years of their occurrence, was found among his papers. The 
publication of this diary has been delayed for two reasons: 
first, my mother’s objection to their publicity during her life- 
time: secondly, because the manuscript breaks off suddenly, 
and I have long hoped, but in vain, to find the continuation and 
conclusion. To such readers as were not personally acquainted 
with the writer of this diary I may briefly state that he was a 
member of the Society of Friends, belonging to a family which 
had been attached members of that body from its very founda- 
tion. During many years he was an ‘overseer’ or ‘elder’, and 
was frequently appointed to offices of trust in church matters. 
Like many other Quakers, he took an active interest in the 

189 




WlJLl^LJNtjrl UM MiJLJL 

Peace Society, the Anti-Slavery Society, and other philanthro- 
pic organizations. He was also among the earliest teetotallers 
in the north of England. 

His rea ding was fairly extensive, the Quarterly and Edin- 
burgh being sandwiched with George Fox's Journal and the old 
Examiner , and Ebenezer Elliot taken alternately with some 
French author or the British Friend. I mention these details 
solely to place outsiders in a position to judge of the character 
and the reliability of the writer of the diary, and will only add 
my own testimony that a man with a more delicate sense of 
what it means to speak the truth I have yet to meet. 

It only r emains to add that throughout the narrative ‘J.P.’ 
stands for my father himself, and ‘E.P.’ for my mother, and 
that the paragraphs between brackets are my own additions. 
The earliest statement I can find is the following, in his own 
handwriting: 

‘Particulars relating to some unaccountable noises heard 
in the house of J. and E. Procter, Willington Mill, which began 
about three months prior to the present time, viz., i mo. 28th, 
1835, still continuing, and for which no adequate natural 
cause has hitherto been discovered. 

‘About six weeks ago the nursemaid first told her mistress of 
the state of dread and alarm she was kept in, in consequence of 
noises she had heard for about two months, occurring more 
particularly nearly every evening when left alone to watch the 
child [my eldest brother, then about two years old] to sleep in 
the nursery, a room on the second floor; she declared she 
distinctly heard a dull heavy tread on the boarded floor of the 
unoccupied room above, commonly pacing backwards and 
forwards, and, on coming over the window, giving the floor 
such a shake as to cause the window of the nursery to rattle 
violently in its frame. This disturbance generally lasted ten 
minutes at a time, and though she did not heed it at first, yet 
she was now persuaded it was supernatural, and “it quite over- 
set her”. The latter was indeed evident from the agitation she 
manifested. 

‘The kitchen girl said that the nursemaid had called her up- 
stairs sometimes when frightened in this manner, and that she 
had found her trembling much and very pale. On examining 

190 



WILLINGTON MILL 

her further in reference to this improbable tale, she did not 
vary in her statement, but on searching the rooms above and 
finding nothing to cause such results, but little credit was 
attached to the story. 

‘Before many days had elapsed, however, every member of 
the family had witnessed precisely what the girl described, and 
from that time to the present, nearly every day, and sometimes 
several times in the day, the same has been heard by one or 
more of the inmates, varying unimportantly in the nature of 
the sound. A few particular instances may here be selected, in 
which imagination or fear could have no influence. 

‘On sixth day, ist month 23rd, i835,my wife had in the fore- 
noon requested one of the servants to sweep out the disturbed 
room in the course of the day, and being herself in the nursery 
[the room below] after dinner, heard a noise in the room like a 
person stirring about, which she took for granted was the maid 
cleaning out the chamber, when, to her surprise, she after- 
wards found that neither of the girls had been upstairs at all. 
The next day one of the maids, being in the nursery, supposed, 
from the noise she heard, that the other was lighting a fire in 
the room above, as had been desired, which proved a similar 
mistake to that on the preceding day. It may be remarked that 
the nursemaid first mentioned had left, and another engaged, 
from whom the affair was carefully concealed. A day or two 
after her arrival the noise was observed by her fellow servant 
whilst they were together in the nursery, but she apparently 
did not observe it herself, from her companion talking and 
using the rocking-chair. Later, however, the same evening it 
began suddenly when she was present, and she, somewhat 
alarmed, inquired who or what was in the room above. 

‘On First day, the 25th, being kept at home by indisposition, 
my wife was in the nursery about eleven o’clock in the fore- 
noon, and heard on the floor above, about the centre of the 
room, a step as of a man with a strong shoe or boot going to- 
wards the window and returning. The same day, when we were 
at dinner, the maid, being with the child in the nursery, heard 
the same heavy tread for about five min utes; she came into the 
sitting-room to satisfy herself that her master was there, think- 
ing it must have been he who was upstairs. The following day 

191 



W 1-L-lji.J.N i UiN 

the dull sound was resumed, and up to this day the boots have 
not done duty again. It may be noted that frequently the room 
has been examined immediately after the occurrence of the 
noise; it has been sat in, in one instance slept in all night, and 
in every case nothing has been elicited. Several of our friends 
who have waited to hear the invisible disturber have all, with 
one exception, been disappointed. 

*My brother, John Richardson Procter , 1 remained in the 
room below some time after the usual period of operation, 
fruitlessly, but within ten minu tes of his departure the nurse 
was so terrified by the loudness of its onset that she ran down- 
stairs with the child half asleep in her arms. My cousin, Mary 
Unthank, stayed two nights and was much in the room with- 
out being gratified. All the persons who have heard, and six 
have been so far privileged, are confident that the noise is 
within the room on the third floor, as the precise part of the 
floor above on which the impression is made is clearly dis- 
tinguishable through the ceiling below, and the weight 
apparently laid on, shaking violently the window in the room 
bdow, when no other window in the house is affected, and 
during a dead calm, is of itself a proof of this. 

‘It seems impossible there can be any trick in the case; there 
is a garret above, and the roof is inaccessible from without; 
the house stands alone, and during most of the time the win- 
dow was built up with lath and plaster, whilst the only other 
communication with the outside, by the chimney, was dosed 
by a fireboard which was so covered over with soot as to prove 
that not a pebble or a mouse had passed. The room is devoid 
of furniture, and for some time the door was nailed up. Not a 
rat has been seen in the house for years, nor at any time any- 
thing heard like a scratch or squeak, or running between the 
floor and ceiling; nor, it is conceived, could a hundred rats so 
shake the floor by their weight as to cause the window below 
toratdeasitdoes. 

‘The noise has been heard at every hour of the day, though 
oftenest in the evening, rarely in the night; has no connection 
with weather nor with the going of the mill; [the mill was 

1 A portrait and biographical notice of this brother will be found in 
Quaker Records , by Mrs. A. O. Boyce. 

192 



WILLINGTON MILL 

contiguous, but there was a road between it and the house] in 
short, it is difficult to imagine a natural cause having a shadow 
of pretension to belief. 

‘Those who deem all intrusion from the world of spirits 
impossible in the present constitution of things will feel 
assured that a natural solution of the difficulty will still be 
obtained on further investigation; whilst those who believe 
with the poet “that millions of spiritual creatures walk the 
earth unseen”, and that, even in modem times, amidst a 
thousand creations of fancy, fear, fraud, or superstition, there 
still remain some well-attested instances in which good or 
evil spirits have manifested their presence by sensible tokens, 
will probably deem it possible that this may be referred to 
the latter class — especially when they learn that several cir- 
cumstances tending to corroborate such a view are withheld 
from this narrative. 

[Whether the ‘several circumstances withheld’ are disclosed 
in the written narratives which follow I am unable to say. I 
find the following consecutive:] 

‘Additional particulars relating to unaccountable noises, &c., 
heard at Willington Mill, containing the most remarkable from 
first month 25th, to the present time, second month 18th, 1835. 

‘On the First day night, the 31st of first month, soon after 
retiring to bed, before going to sleep, my wife and I both heard 
ten or twelve obtuse deadened beats as of a mallet on a block 
of wood, apparently within two feet of the bed curtain, on one 
side by the crib in which the child was laid. The next night; 
before undressing, I had hushed the child asleep in his crib, 
and while leaning over it with one hand laid upon it and listen- 
ing to some indistinct sounds overhead, which had just ceased, 
I heard a tap on the cradle leg as with a piece of steel, and 
distinctly felt the vibration of the wood in my hand from the 
blow. This might be a sudden crack, not unfr equent when 
wood is drying in, but it sounded like a knock on the outside. 
Since this time the walking in the empty room has not been 
heard oftener than twice or thrice, of which this afternoon was 
the last time. 

‘On the same evening I heard that Thomas Mann, the fore- 
man of the mill — a man of strict integrity and veracity, who 

n 193 S.P. 



WILLINGTON MILL 

has been two years in Unthank and Procter’s employ — had 
heard something remarkable, and on questioning him elicited 
the following statement. It may be premised that U. and P. 
have a wooden cistern on iron wheels to bring water for their 
horses, which stands in the mill yard. When in motion, drawn 
by a horse to be filled, it makes a very peculiar noise which 
may be heard a considerable distance, especially when the 
wheels want greasing, and by any person accustomed to it the 
noise of its going could not be mistaken for that of any other 
vehicle. The mill was going all night, and T. M.’s place was to 
attend the engine till 2 a.m. Going out to fill the barrow with 
coals about one o’clock, he heard this machine, as he thought, 
going along the yard, which did not at the moment strike him 
as out of the usual course; but remembering the hour, the 
apprehension that it was being stolen flashed on his mind; it 
was creaking excessively, from want of oil as might be sup- 
posed, and was then drawing near the yard gates, towards 
which he pursued after it, when, to his astonishment, he found 
it had never stirred from its place near where he at first was, 
and looking round everywhere all was still and not a creature 
to be found. He afterwards searched round the premises with 
a lantern but descried nothing. He was much puzzled, but it 
was not till the next day that he felt himself compelled to 
attribute the phenomenon to a supernatural cause. 

‘More than once I have, on coming through the garden at 
night, heard a sound like someone stepping down the gravel 
walk and have not been able to discover anyone. This step on 
the gravel has been heard by one or two others,but nothing seen. 

‘On First day, 2 mo., 15th [1835], my wife and I were in- 
formed by our cousin Unthanks that they understood that 
the house, and that room in particular in which the noises now 
occurred, was said to be haunted before they entered it in 
1806, but that nothing that they knew of had been heard 
during their occupancy of 25 years. 

[On the same page as the above, and in my father’s hand- 
writing, is the following memorandum below the above recital; 
there is a line drawn through them, however, whether by myself 
I am unable to say, and the sentence is apparently unfinished:] 

‘An infirm old woman, the mother-in-law of R. Oxon, the 

194 



WILLINGTON MILL 

builder of the premises, lived and died in the house, and after 
her death the haunting was attributed 

[I have heard my father speak of this circumstance, but the 
evidence appeared to be of a slight and hearsay character. 

I find the following occurrence described on a separate sheet 
of paper, but believe, although it is not dated, that this is the 
correct sequence of the manuscript. I have myself heard all 
the particulars from the lips of all the parties concerned, which 
completely agreed with this account in my father’s hand- 
writing.] 

‘For about two months previously there had rarely been 24 
hours without indications by noises, &c., not in any other way 
accountable, of the presence of the ghostly visitant, to some or 
all of the inmates. A few days previously a respectable neigh- 
bour had seen a transparent white female figure in a window 
in the second storey of the house. On the 13th of last month 
(November), early in the evening, two of the children in the 
house, one aged about 8, the other under two years, both saw, 
unknown to each other, an object which could not be real, and 
which went into the room where the apparition was afterwards 
seen, and disappeared there. A near connection of the family 
on a visit [my mother’s sister], but for whom, for obvious 
reasons, a lodging was obtained at the house of Thomas Mann 
(the foreman of the flour mill adjoining and much respected 
by his employers), went out as usual .to sleep about 9.30 p.m. 
Soon after going to her bedroom T. M.’s wife went out of the 
house for some coals, and was struck with a figure in the win- 
dow previously referred to [nothing being between the two 
houses but a kitchen garden and a road]; she called her hus- 
band, who saw the same figure passing backwards and for- 
wards and then standing still in the window. It was very 
luminous and likewise transparent, and had the appearance of 
a priest in a white surplice. T. M. then called out the relative 
of the family and his own daughter. When they came the head 
was nearly gone and the brightness somewhat abated, but it 
was fully ten minutes before it quite disappeared by fading 
gradually downwards. Both when standing and moving it was 
about 3 feet from the floor of the room. T. M. went down close 
under the window, and also went to inform the inmates of the 

195 



WILLINGTON MILL 

cir cumstan ce, but finding they had locked-up for the night 
did not accomplish it. It was a dark night, without a moon, and 
there was not a ray of light, nor any person anywhere near the 
house. The window blind was close down, and the figure 
seemed to come through both it and the glass, as had the 
brightness been all inside of the glass the framing of the win- 
dow would have intervened, which was not visible. In walking 
the figure seemed to enter the wall on each side. The occupier 
of the house [my father] slept in that room, and must have 
gone in shortly after the disappearance of the apparition. 

[My aunt, the ‘near connection’ referred to above, Mrs. 
Christiana Wright, of Mansfield, who is still living, has read 
the manuscript of this incident this year (1892). She has cor- 
rected it in two or three unimportant details, but otherwise 
confirms it as strictly according to her own observation. 

The following account of my father’s has no year stated, but 
it appears to be about this time. J. C. is my mother’s sister, 
Jane Carr, of Carlisle.] 

‘On the 16th of 12th mo., a little before twelve o’clock at 
night, J. C. and her bedfellow were disturbed by a noise 
similar to the winding up of a clock, apparently on the stairs 
where the clock stands, which continued for the space of ten 
minutes. When that ceased footsteps were heard in the room 
above, which is- unoccupied, for perhaps a quarter of an hour; 
whilst this was going on the bed was felt to shake, and J. C. 
distinctly heard the sound like a sack falling on the floor above. 
On the 3rd of 1st month, about 12 o’clock at night, J. C. being 
quite awake, was disturbed by a noise s imilar to a person 
knocking quickly and strongly five times on a piece of board 
in the room; when that ceased she distinctly heard the sound 
of a footstep close by the side of her bed. About the be ginning 
of the year J. P. was awoke by a sound like a bullet lodged in 
the floor above or in the wall of his bedroom, and looked at 
his watch to ascertain the time; he found next mo rning that 
his wife in the next room was awoke by the same sound. 

‘About the 21st inst. E. P. and nurse Pollard both felt them- 
selves raised up and let down three times. [My mother has de- 
scribed this experience to me; she said the bed was lifted up as if 
a man were underneath pushing it up with his back. She did not 

196 



WILLINGTON MILL 

speak to nurse Pollard, nor the nurse to her, each thinking the 
other was asleep; this not being disclosed until breakfast time.] 
On the 15th, about 8 p.m., J. P., jun., who had been in bed 
about half an hour, called on someone to come to him and 
begged for a light; he said that some thing under the crib raised 
him up very quickly many times, and wished to know what it 
could be. On the nth of 1st mo., whilst the servants were at 
dinner, E. P. was lying on the sofa in her lodging-room when 
she felt the floor to vibrate as from a heavy foot in an adjoin- 
ing room; in the writing-room underneath J. C. at the same 
time heard the sound of a person walking backwards and for- 
wards in the room above. Soon after this E. P. heard the sound 
of a closet door in the room above shutting three times, after 
which footsteps came into the middle of the room and then all 
was silent E. P. feels assured there was nobody upstairs at the 
time. On the 17th, at 7 p.m., the two elder children and two 
nursemaids were in the nursery when a loud clattering or 
jingling was heard in the room; it sounded from the closet; the 
girls were very much terrified, as was also Jane P., who is four 
years and a half old. Litde Joseph, perceiving his sister 
affrighted, endeavoured to calm her by saying, “Never mind, 
Jane; God will take care of thee.” Some weeks before this 
little Joseph said in the morning to his aunt, Jane Carr, who 
was sleeping with him, that he was a long time in getting to 
sleep the night before from some people walking very fast in 
the room above; he wondered who it could be. This was an 
unoccupied room. One night, whilst sleeping in a crib in his 
parents’ room, he awoke his father to say that somebody had 
stepped close to his bed. One night about this time J. P. heard, 
early in the morning, a noise as of wood moving from the 
middle to one side of the boarded floor of the empty room 
above; after which he heard a loud beating in the mill yard. 
Another night he heard two very peculiar sounds as of 
whistling or whizzing. [I have sometimes heard my father 
imitate this peculiar and horrid sound.] About 11 o’clock on 
the night of the 23rd, J. C. and her litde bedfellow heard a 
succession of thumps or blows in the empty room above which 
continued for the space of ten minutes. A little after one 
o’clock the same night J. P. was awakened by a single beat or 

197 



WILLINGTON MILL 

blow in the room above, after which one of the chairs in his 
own room seemed shifted. 

‘On the ni ght of the 26th J. P. heard the sound of footsteps 
in the attic, and afterwards as of setting things down in the 
room above, from about 11.30 p.m. to 2 a.m. A little after 
eleven he had heard several prolonged and peculiar whistles 
which were also heard by the nurse in another room; they 
seemed to come from the landing; she had described it with- 
out knowing that J. P. had heard it. Joseph was shaken in his 
crib early the same night. 

‘On the 27th no one slept in the third storey; about eleven 
o’clock Jane C. and the nursemaid heard in the room above 
the sound of some person with strong shoes sometimes walk- 
ing, sometimes running backwards and forwards, moving 
chairs and dashin g down box lids and sometimes thumping 
as with a fist. These sounds also moved on to the stair-head. 
About midnight J. C. felt the bed raised up under one side as 
if to turn her over, giving two lifts. Nurse Pollard in another 
room on the same floor heard a noise which aroused her as 
she was going to sleep; something then pressed against the 
night part of the curtain and came down on to her arm, which 
was weighed down with the same force; in great terror she 
called out, “Lord, have mercy upon me!” Nothing further 
occurred to her that night, nor was the maid who slept with 
her aroused. 

‘2nd month, 3rd. On nearly every day or night since the last 
entry more or less has been heard that could be referred to no 
other than the same cause; amongst them the following may 
be noted: Joseph and Henry have been several times disturbed 
in their cribs during the evening; once they heard a loud 
shriek which seemed to come from near the foot of the bed. 
On going up Joseph was found trembling and perspiring from 
the fright. One evening J. P. heard a very peculiar moan or cry 
in the same room; also J. and E. P. and Jane C. heard footsteps 
and noises which ceased on running upstairs to prevent the 
children being frightened. Another time Joseph said his bed 
moved backwards and forwards; also a voice by the foot of the 
bed said, “Chuck” twice, and then made a noise like a child 
sucking. He describes other voices; he is very inquisitive as to 

198 



WILLINGTON MILL 

the origin of these noises, and says he never heard or felt any- 
thing like it whilst we lived at Shields. 

‘It may be proper to mention that neither he nor any of the 
children have any idea of anything supernatural. Jane sleeps 
in another room; she told her mother that she felt the bed go 
up and down, and other things of that kind, not having heard 
of her brother Joseph, or any of us, having felt anything of the 
same kind. 

‘About the 30th J. and E. P. heard loud thumps in the room 
above, also footsteps in the night, when they knew no one was 
upstairs, as the cook was at that time sleeping for company 
with the nurses on the second floor. A day or two later, about 
six in the evening, whilst the servants were at tea in the kitchen, 
E. P. and J. C., whilst in the nursery on the second floor, 
heard what seemed to be heavy pieces of wood jarring on the 
floor above. 

‘2nd mo., 1st. About 11 p.m. some little time after all had 
gone to bed, the sound of chairs, &c., being moved about on 
the kitchen floor was heard. 

‘2nd mo., 4th. Jane C. had been poorly, and was awake about 
4.30 a.m., as well as her companion, when they heard foot- 
steps descending from the upper storey which passed their 
door and went down into the kitchen; they thought it was the 
cook and wondered at her being so early. They then heard 
the sound of the kitchen door opening and then of the kitchen 
window being thrown up and the shutters opened with more 
than usual noise. About seven o’clock they were surprised by 
the cook calling at their room for a light; having been up early 
to do washing the previous morning she had this time over- 
slept herself. She had clearly not yet been downstairs. 

‘On the afternoon of the same day Jon. D. Carr [my mother’s 
brother of Carlisle] came to the house and stayed all night, 
sleeping alone on the second storey. Soon after going to bed 
he heard noises in the room above, as of a piece of wood or a 
balance rapidly striking each end on the floor; afterwards 
many beats as with a mallet, some very loud; also like a person 
stamping in a passion. He also heard a peculiar whistle, which 
he imitated so as exactly to resemble what J. P. heard some 
time before; he further heard a noise on the stairs and landing, 

199 



WILLINGTON MILL 

and for some time felt his bed to vibrate very much; he put his 
hand down to the stock and felt it shaking. This suddenly 
ceased. He was quite awake and collected, indeed did not 
sleep till two o’clock, though unusually disposed to it. He said 
in the mo rning he would not live in the house for any money. 

‘The account he gave to Jonathan Carr [his father] induced 
the latter to come over from Carlisle next morning to see if he 
could assist with his advice under such disagreeable and 
dangerous disturbances. 

[I can find no other allusion to my grandfather’s visit 
among my father’s papers.] 

‘On 2nd mo., 5th, between 11 and 12 at night, Jane C. heard 
a thump on the landin g near the bedroom door, upon which 
she awoke her companion, Mary Young. [This was the cook 
whom my aunt had to sleep with her, not daring to sleep alone 
in such a house; she was a most respectable and intelligent 
woman whom I well remember; she was eight years in my 
mother’s service when she married the principal tradesman in 
the village.] Mary Young heard the slot in the door apparently 
slide back, the handle to turn and the door to open. A rush- 
light was burning on the dressing-table, but the bed was an 
old four-poster, and the curtains being drawn, no thing could 
be seen. A step then went to the rushlight, and appeared by 
the sound to snuff it and then lay down the snuffers. In the 
act of snuffing the light was transiently obscured, as when that 
act is customarily performed. Jane C. then felt it raise up the 
clothes over her twice; then they both heard something rustle 
the curtains as it went round the bed; on getting to Mary 
Young’s side she distincdy saw a dark shadow on the curtain. 
On getting to the bed-board where Jane C. lay a loud thump 
as with a fist was heard on it; something was then felt to press 
on the counterpane on M. Young’s side of the bed, the bed 
curtain being pushed in but nothing more seen. Whatever 
the visitor might be was then heard to go out, seeming to leave 
the door open. In the morning they found the door still bolted 
as it was left when they went to bed. In this occurrence Jane C. 
heard and felt everything described, but having her head under 
the bedclothes could not see the shadow as her companion did. 
[I have on three or four occasions heard a graphic account of 

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WILLINGTON MILL 

this night of horror both from my aunt Jane Carr in later life, 
and from Mary Young some years after her marriage. The 
description they both gave exactly agreed with the above 
narrative from my father’s pen except that one or both of 
them stated that a few minutes after the dreadful unknown 
visitor left the room they arose, found the door locked as when 
they came to bed, and searched the room in every way. This 
is the only discrepancy I notice. One would naturally expect 
that my aunt would refiise to stay longer in the house after such 
an experience, but such was not the case; she was, as I remem- 
ber her to be, a woman of strong nerve, of very cheerful tem- 
per, and not easily disturbed. She died on board tfte steamer 
Prussian Eagle , in Plymouth Sound, in 1859.] 

‘On the 7th J. C. heard the noise of a box trailed over the 
floor above the nursery when she was certain no one was up- 
stairs, the servants being at dinner in the kitchen and the rest 
of the family in the parlour downstairs. 

‘On the previous night there had been unaccountable 
thumpings and bed-shakings but nothing of special note. 

‘From 2nd mo., 6th to the 20th, nothing particular has been 
heard; but Jane, about 4^ years old, told her parents that when 
sleeping with her aunt she one night saw by the washstand at 
the foot of the bed where the curtains were open, a queer 
looking head,- she thought of an old woman; she saw her lands 
with two fingers of each hand extended and touching each 
other; she had something down the sides of her face and passed 
across the lower part of it. She saw it plainly though it was 
darkish in the room. She was afraid and put her head under 
the clothes and by-and-bye fell asleep. On the 17th, about 
dusk, she described having seen a head on the landing as she 
was coming downstairs, and appeared to be very much terri- 
fied. 

‘About the 25th, pretty late at night, whilst J. P. was asleep, 
E. P. felt a heavy pressure which unnerved her very much; it 
seemed to take her breath away and she felt quite sick after it, 
but did not tell J. P. of it until the morning. Some night previous 
E. P. was awoke by feeling a pressure on the face over the eye, 
of icy coldness; it was suddenly laid on with a good deal of 
force and as suddenly withdrawn. [I have heard my mother 

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WILLINGTON MILL 

describe this on different occasions 20 or 30 years after it 
occurred; her face always had a pained expression when she 
related this experience, which I think was more distressing to 
her than any thing she underwent in the house.] 

‘3rd mo., 3rd. About 5 a.m. E. P. was awake when several 
beats were felt on one side of the room, which awoke J. P.; a 
vibration was felt in the room, the bed shook considerably and 
the cur tain rings rattled. The knocks were repeated on the 
floor above. 

‘On the night of the 5th E. P. heard what appeared to be a 
heavy box turned over twice in the room above where no one 
was sleeping and the entire household being asleep except her- 
self, and everything still. 

[I omit several memoranda about this time as to the chil- 
dren and servants hearing voices and sounds of various 
descriptions.] 

‘3rd mo., 13th, 1840. Since the last entry Joseph has heard 
the sound of a thick stick being broken in his room; of a step- 
ping backwards and forwards; of his name being called, &c. 
About the same date J. and E. P. heard unaccountable drum- 
mings and vibrations; also the sound of someone stirring in 
the closet. 

‘On the 21st J. and E. P. heard a handbell rung upstairs; 
they were quite satisfied at the time that no one was there. On 
the 28th heavy thumps in the middle of the night, and after 
breakfast the next morning E. P. heard a handbell rung up- 
stairs when she was quite certain everyone was downstairs. 
J. and E. P. are sure it is no actual bell in the house that is rung, 
the tone being altogether different. Joseph has been disturbed 
nearly every night lately; he says when there is nobody up- 
stairs the voices are loud; he is now afraid of going into his 
room in the daytime. The words he reports as being uttered, 
such as “Never mind” — “Come and get”, seem to have no 
particular application. To-night he has heard footsteps twice, 
and felt a bat on his pillow. At the time two of the servants 
were at a temperance meeting, the other in the kitchen. [The 
inference that my brother was simply dre aming , or else sham- 
ming, so as to get some one to come beside him, will no doubt 
readily occur to some minds. I can only say that a more truth- 

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WILLINGTON MILL 

fill boy, or one more transparently honest I do not think ever 
breathed. He was six years of age at this time, and died eleven 
years afterwards from an accidental blow on the head at a 
boarding school.] 

‘On the 30th Henry (3 years old) was awakened by his 
brother Joseph ringing the bell at his bedside, saying his bed 
was shaking, and that he heard someone tal king in the room; 
Henry being asked if he did not think it was Joseph that spoke, 
said No, and showed where the sound came from; they both 
heard it again about 10 minutes later on. 

‘4 mo., 6th. During the last nine days J. and E. P. have often 
heard something stirring in the night, and knocks in the ser- 
vants’ room above; these they afterwards found the girls had 
not heard, being very sound sleepers. 

‘4 mo., 4th. — This evening E. P. plainly heard someone or 
something stirring and rustling about in a room she knew no 
one was in, and there and then found that no one was in it. 

‘6th. — During last night there seemed to be but little quiet 
in the house till daylight; noises as of a shoe dragged over the 
boards just outside the door, and as though the servants had 
got up and were going about; knocks loud, and knocks gentle, 
indeed all sorts of knocks.’ 

[It may be well to mention here that the Newcastle and North 
Shields Railway, which passes about a quarter of a mile from 
the house; was opened on June 19th, 1 840. 

A gap occurs in the diary here, but the following letter 
written by my father to my mother on July 4th, 1840, illus- 
trates a striking incident of which full particulars are given by 
William Howitt and Mrs. Crowe. The hero. Dr. Drury, a 
practitioner then well-known in Sunderland, had obtained 
leave to sit up all night on the stairs with a friend, dur- 
ing the absence of the family except my father and one 
servant. He had wished to bring a loaded musket and a dog 
with him; my father objected to firearms, but consented to 
the dog.] 

‘Willington. Seventh day , evening 

‘Dear Elizabeth, . . . Last night Dr. Drury came with T. 
Hudson, a shopman of Joseph Ogilvie, chemist, and no dog. 
After a long chat they sat on the high landing; I went to my 

203 



WTLLINGTON MILL 

own. bed; Bell in the Camp room. About one o’clock I heard 
a most horrid shriek from E. D., slipped on my trousers and 
went up. He had then swooned, but came to himself again in 
a state of extreme nervous excitement, and accompanied with 
much coldness and faintness. He had seen the G.; had been 
struck speechless as it advanced from the closet in the room 
over the drawing-room to the landing, and then leapt up with 
an awful shriek and fainted. The other young man had his 
head laid against the easy-chair and was dozing, and as the G. 
made no noise in coming up he did not awake till the yell of 
his friend called him to his help. 

‘I called up Bell to make on the fires, get coffee, &c., but he 
continued in a shocking state of tremour for some hours, 
though not irrational. He had a ghastly look and started at the 
smallest sound — could not bear to see any thing white; he had 
not been in the least sleepy, and was not at all frightened till the 
moment when the G. met his gaze. They had both previously 
heard several noises, but all had been quiet for about a quarter 
of an hour, and E. D. was thinking of getting his companion 
to go to bed, not expecting anything more that night. . . . E. D. 
has got a shock he will not soon cast off. I go to Shields to- 
night and I question I come back at present.’ 

[The diary resumes as follows:] 

‘5 mo., 17th, 1841. — Since the latter end of 12 mo., 1840, we 
have been entirely free from those very singular disturbances, 
which had been occurring with some intermissions for about 
14 months before; and as we now appear to be threatened with 
a renewal of them, I here make some memoranda of the cir- 
cumstances. Our servants for some time have shown no 
symptoms of timidity, and seemed to have no apprehension of 
any recurrence of former visitations. E. P. has not been well 
lately, and has thought she observed something in the demean- 
our of the servants indicative of fear within a day or two past; 
on questioning them this afternoon they said the ghost had 
come back, but they wished to keep it from her if possible, as 
she was poorly. On the 29th, about 9 p.m., J. P., hearing Joseph 
call, and going upstairs, heard a rustling, like a female r unning 
out of the room, but saw no one and was satisfied no one was 

204 



WILLINGTON MILL 

there. Joseph said his name had been called several times from 
near the foot of the bed in a voice like his own. That night J. 
and E. P. heard a drumming and tapping in different parts of 
their room; at one moment it seemed to be something heavy 
falling on the floor of the room above, then on the floor of the 
room adjoining, where it awoke the youngest child, and tbm 
to pounce down in the room below on the ground floor. [I have 
frequently heard my father describe this peculiar case.] 

‘6 mo., ist. — The two maids, Davis and E. Mann, report 
they were unable to sleep before 2 a.m. from c onstant noises, 
particularly the apparent treading of bare feet backwards and 
forwards at the foot of their bed, the noise several times 
awaking the youngest child; sometimes the tread seemed to pass 
out on to the landing and run up and down stairs. The nursery 
door was of course bolted. 

‘7th day, 11 mo., 13th, 1841. — About 4.30 p.m. Joseph, 
now eight years old, was in the nursery with his brothers and 
sisters; he had seated himself on the top of a chest of drawers 
and was making a pretended speech to them, when he sud- 
denly jumped down, and the nursery door being ajar, J. P., 
who was in his own bedroom adjoining, heard him exclaim 
there was a monkey, and that it had pulled his leg by his shoe- 
strap. J. P. did not himself see the monkey, but coming out of 
his room saw the children peering under the curtains of the 
bed in the Blue-room where, they alleged, the animal had 
disappeared. Joseph afterwards stated that the monkey had 
given a sharp pull at his shoe-strap, and had tickled his foot; 
he did not suppose any other but it was a real monkey. Ed- 
mund, who is under two years old, was frightened a short time 
before by what he called a “funny cat”, and showed a good 
deal of timidity the rest of the evening, looking under chairs, 
&c., lest it should be lurking there, and it is to be noted that 
he has no fear of a cat. 

[Now it so happens that his monkey is the first incident in 
the lugubrious hauntings, or whatever they may be termed, of 
which I have any recollection. I suppose it was, or might easily, 
be the first monkey I had ever seen, which may explain my 
memory being so impressed that I have not forgotten it. A 
monkey and, upstairs in the nursery, that is the business. My 

205 



WILLINGTON MILL 

p arents have told me that no monkey was known to be owned 
in the neighbourhood, and that after diligent inquiry no organ- 
man or hurdy-gurdy boy, either with or without a monkey, 
had been seen anywhere about the place or neighbourhood, 
either on that day or for a length of time. Although I freely 
admit the evidence of an infant barely two years old is of very 
small import, yet I may say I have an absolutely distinct recol- 
lection of that monkey, and of running to see where it went to 
as it hopped out of the room and into the adjoining Blue-room. 
We saw it go under the bed in that room, but it could not be 
traced or found anywhere afterwards. We hunted and ferretted 
about that room, and every comer of the house, but no mon- 
key, or any trace of one, was more to be found. I don’t know 
what to make of such a visitation, and have no explanation to 
offer; but that it was a monkey, that it disappeared under the 
bed in the Blue-room that Saturday afternoon, and was never 
seen or heard of again — of this, not merely from my own 
childish recollection, but from the repeated confirmation of 
my brothers and sisters in after life, I am perfectly certain. I am 
merely recording facts as simply as I can; readers may smile 
or mock as seemeth good unto them — I cannot alter what has 
taken place to suit either them or anyone else.] 

‘On the 26th of 10th mo., 1841, about 9 a.m., Joseph and 
Henry were playing at the foot of the stairs; they both saw a 
white face looking down upon them over the stair rails leading 
to the garret. Joseph called for his aunt, Christiana Carr, to 
come and see it, but just as she was coming he saw it hop 
away. Henry heard it give a great jump, but Joseph, being very 
dull of hearing, did not. They both agreed in the description 
of what they saw. 

‘On First day evening, 19th of 12th, 1841, about 8 o’clock, 
E. P. and her sister, Christiana Carr, were in the nursery with 
the infant, and heard a heavy step coming up the stairs. They 
at first thought it might be J. P., but recollected that he had 
put on his slippers, and the step was with heavy shoes; it 
seemed to pass into the adjo ining room in which were some of 
the children asleep. They soon heard sounds in that room as of 
something heavy falling, and by-and-bye Henry, about five 
years old, began to cry as if afraid. The only maid then at 

206 



WILLINGTON MILL 

home came up to him, when he could not speak for a length of 
time for sobbing; at last he said something spoke to him, and 
had also made noises with the chairs. 

‘About the middle of nth mo., 1841, Christiana Carr went 
with Eliz. Mann into a bedroom about 10 pun. They heard a 
heavy labouring breathing, first at the far side of the room and 
then very near them, the floor at the same time shaking with a 
constant vibration. They hastily retired. 

‘On the 24th of nth mo. Joseph, who had gone to bed about 
8 o’clock, presently called on his father in some alarm; he said 
a man had just been in who went to the window, threw up the 
sash, put it down again and then walked out; he had light or 
grey hair and no hat on. He was astonished J. P. had not met 
him. Within a few minutes he called out again; he had heard 
a step from the door to the closet at the far side of the room 
where he heard something like a cloak fall. He durst not look 
up to see who it was. [If any reader exclaim that these are but 
the dreams and nightmares of children, I will only remind 
them that I am simply transcribing from my father’s diary, 
written on the dates given by his own hand, and that they must 
form their own conclusions. 

The diary goes on to say that my mother had her own 
mother staying with her and sleeping with her at this time for 
about a fortnight.] 

‘One night, when E. P. was asleep, Jane Carr [her mother] 
heard a sound like a continued pelting of small substances 
which at first she took for cinders from the fire; afterwards, as 
she sat up in bed, with a light burning, and seeing no th in g , she 
heard the sound of somebody going gently about the floor, 
the dress rustling as it passed from one part of the room to 
another. On or about the 1st of nth mo. E. P. awoke at night, 
heard the sound of an animal leaping down off the easy-chair 
which stood near the bed; there was no noise of its getting up 
and r unning off, but a dead silence. 

‘7 mo., 14th, 1841 . — J. and E. P. heard the spirit in their own 
room, and in the room overhead, making a noise as of some- 
thing heavy being hoisted or rolled, or like a barrel set down 
on its end; also noises in the Camp-room of various and most 
unaccountable character. Edmund, who is about a year and a 

207 



WILLINGTON MILL 

half old, roused up with every symptom of being dreadfully 
frightened; he screamed violently, was a very long time in 
sleeping again, and frequently awoke in a flight; he became 
feverish and continued so all the following day, seemed 
frightened at the sight of his crib and alarmed at any noise he 
did not understand. 

‘8 mo., 3rd. — Since the last date there have been few nights 
during which some branch of the family has not heard our 
visitor. One night J. P. was awoke and heard something hastily 
walk, with a step like that of a child of 8 or 10 years, from the 
foot of the bed towards the side of the room, and come back 
seemingly towards the door, in a run; then it gave two stamps 
with one foot; there was a loud rustling as of a frock or night- 
dress. I need scarcely say the door was locked, and I am quite 
certain there was no other human being in the room but E. P., 
who was asleep. The two stamps roused E. P. out of her sleep. 
About this time Joseph, on two or three occasions, said he had 
heard voices from underneath his bed and from other parts of 
the room, and described seeing on one occasion a boy in a 
drab hat much like his own, the boy much like himself too, 
walking backwards and forwards between the window and the 
wardrobe. He was afraid but did not speak. 

‘Noises as of a band-box falling close at hand, as of some- 
one running upstairs when no one was there, and like the 
raking of a coal rake, were heard about this time by different 
members of the family. 

‘8 mo., 6th. — On the night of the 3rd, just after the previous 
memorandum was written, about 10.30 p.m., the servants 
having all retired to bed, J. and E; P. heard a noise like a 
clothes-horse being thrown down in the kitchen. Soon the 
noises became louder and appeared as though some persons 
had burst into the house on the ground floor and were clashing 
the doors and throwing things down. Eventually J. P. got one 
of the servants to go downstairs with him, when all was found 
right, no one there, and apparently nothing moved. The noises 
now began on the third storey, and the servants were so much 
alarmed that it was difficult to get them to go to bed at all that 
night. 

‘8 mo., 6th to 1 2th. — My brother-in-law, George Carr, was 

208 



WILLINGTON MILL 

with us. He heard steppings and loud rumblings in the middle 
of the night, and other noises. 

[At this point the diary abruptly comes to an end. I know, 
however, that disturbances of a varied character continued 
more or less, perhaps less rather than more, for years. One 
episode during the period has been frequently told to me by 
my father, and I think no account of it has been published. All 
his family were in Cumberland and he was sleeping alone, 
only one servant being in the house. He had retired about 
10.30. Owing to the disturbances he and my mother, as well 
as the domestics, usually burnt a rushlight during the night, a 
description of candle at that time in common use; but on this 
occasion he had no light whatever. He had not been two 
minutes in bed when suddenly, seemingly close to the bed- 
side, there was an awful crash as of a wooden box being 
wrenched open with a crowbar with terrific force; he started up 
and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Begone! thou wicked spirit!’ 
As if in defiance of this adjuration the fearful crash was almost 
immediately repeated, and, if possible, louder than before. 
Cool-headed as my father was, and inured to unwelcome sur- 
prises from the unknown, he was painfully agitated by this 
ostentatious outburst of ill-will or wanton devilry; he arose, 
struck a light, searched the room, opened his bedroom door, 
listened on the stairs, looked into other rooms, and explored 
the house generally, but found everything perfectly quiet. 
There was no wind, and indeed there seemed no explanation, 
but one only, of this horrid visitation. 

Finding life in the house to be no longer tolerable; fearing 
also an unhappy effect, if not a permanent injury on the minds 
of their children should they remain longer in such a plague- 
ridden dwelling, they finally left it in 1847, and went to reside 
at Camp Villa, North Shields, social and other reasons also 
influencing them in taking this step. My parents have both 
repeatedly told me that during the last night they slept in the 
old house, the rest of the family having preceded them to the 
new one, there were continuous noises during the night, boxes 
being apparently dragged with heavy thuds down the now 
carpetless stairs, non-human footsteps stumped on the floors, 
doors were, or seemed to be, clashed and impossible furniture 

209 S.P. 


o 



WILLINGTON MILL 

corded at random or dragged hither and thither by inscrutable 
agency; in short, a pantomimic or spiritualistic repetition of all 
the noises incident to a household flitting. A miserable night 
my father and mother had of it, as I have often heard from 
their own lips; not so much from terror at the unearthly noises, 
for to these they were habituated, as dread lest this wretched 
fanfar onade mi ght portend the contemporary flight of the 
unwelcome visitors to the new abode. Fortunately for the 
family this dread was not realized. So far as I know, and in this 
I am confirmed by my elder brother and sisters, the eight 
years’ residence in the new home was absolutely free from all 
forms of the annoyances and uncomfortable knockings, the 
stealthy steps and the uncouth mutterings that for ten or 
eleven years had disturbed the even tenor of a quiet Quaker 
f amily in the old house at Willington Mill. 

The subsequent history of the house may be briefly told. 
The foreman and chief clerk in the flour mill, less sensitive 
perhaps to the disturbances, and with famili es of maturer 
years, raised no objection to occupying it after a time, and it 
was divided into two separate dwellings, and inhabited by 
them for nearly twenty years. They were occasionally dis- 
turbed by unaccountable noises, and Thomas Mann, the fore- 
man, on one or two occasions saw what appeared to be appari- 
tions, but both families were designedly reticent on the sub- 
ject, and I believe suffered but little throughout their occu- 
pancy. About 1867 the mill and house were let for a few 
months to a firm of millers in an adj oining town whose mill 
had been burnt down; I have been informed that those then 
occupying the house were much troubled, one family de clining 
to stay on any terms. Not long afterwards my father sold the 
entire premises to a firm of guano merchants, and information 
reached us that two machinists, one of them a German, who 
were fixing machinery in the mill, spent some restless evenings 
and unhappy nights in the house in fruitlessly trying to dis- 
cover the origin of fitful and exasperating disturbances. No 
effort was made, so far as I know, to test the accuracy of these 
rumours. On one occasion, whilst the house was unoccupied 
shortly before its sale, I was one of a party of four or five 
young men, one of them a doctor, who spent an entire night in 

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WILLINGTON MILL 

the house, upstairs, in the hope of hearing or seeing some- 
thing, but absolutely without result. Some little time after this 
I was one of another and larger party, including two ladies, 
who spent an evening in another upstairs room, accompanied 
by a ‘medium’ of repute at that time well-known in New- 
castle; no person whatever being in the house besides our own 
party. The seance was not without incidents, well understood 
by those acquainted with such proceedings, and which it 
would be useless at the moment to describe to those who are 
not, but absolutely futile as to establishing any communica- 
tion with the alleged spirit or spirits supposed to haunt or to 
have formerly haunted the premises. My father never made 
any attempt to open up communication in this way; his experi- 
ences were prior to the time when the modem developments 
of Spiritualism made the lingo of the seance familiar to the 
public ear, and although he took an earnest interest in the 
subject, he never attended a seance, and laid stress upon the 
application of the well-known text about ‘seducing spirits and 
doctrines of demons’. The mill is now only used as a ware- 
house. The house has been divided into small tenements; I 
understand the owner, reco gnisin g the doubtful repute of the 
house, offered the apartments free for a short term. About two 
years ago I interviewed three or four of the tenants, and was 
told that no disturbances had been experienced. Although of 
modest pretensions, it was formerly a comfortable old- 
fashioned house of ten or twelve rooms, but the untidiness of 
its present aspect is a painful spectacle to those who remember 
it at its best; the stables and adjoining out-buildings have been 
pulled down, the garden wall has disappeared, the jargonelle 
pear trees that formerly blossomed up to the third storey are 
represented by the mere ghosts of blackened stumps, the large 
old thorn tree of red blossom, and the abundance of iris and 
auricula that were wont to bloom in the garden are as far off 
as the snows of last winter. 

The singular record of the house gives it an interest never- 
theless, even in its squalid present and its ungracious decay. 

Some may think the whole affair altogether a very paltry 
story. I admit it is not a very picturesque ‘ghost’; but what- 
ever its merit it is at least authentic, and that is a rather 



WILLINGTON MILL 

important feature in a ghost. The truth has been told without 
extenuation or reserve, and if the recital points to the con- 
clusion that the spirit or spirits, or whatever you choose to call 
them, belonged to the residuum of the spirit world, I hope my 
femily may not be held responsible. 

I may be permitted finally to briefly indicate some of my 
own conclusions. 

If the gibberings, the preposterous incivilities, and the 
unwholesome uproar committed in that house for ten un- 
forgettable years by these unhallowed genii may be accepted 
as an argument tending to establish the continued existence of 
the individual after death, the seductions of futurity are 
scarcely increased to 

Exhausted travellers that have undergone 
The scorching heats of life's intemperate zone . 

Such questionable intimations of immortality are hardly cal- 
culated to soothe us — 

When worn with adverse passions^ furious strife , 

And the hard passage of tempestuous life. 

Nevertheless, this singular history, taken in connection with 
others of its class, may to the impartial and philosophic mind 
hide a lesson of the highest import. M. Renan, in one of the 
very last of his many charming pages, troubled with doubts as 
to a future existence, whilst smiling at the superstition of the 
old-fashioned and orthodox hell, exclaims how glad he would 
be to be sure even of hell, a hypothesis so preferable to 
annihilation. 

In the same way, may we not justifiably postulate this: that 
if we can prove the existence of spirits of a low or inferior 
order, then faith, analogy, and evolution, if not logic and con- 
viction, can claim those of a progressive, a high and superior 
order? Is it not rational to suppose that the more debased and 
the most unhappy have the greatest facility in giving tangible 
proof of their existence, under certain conditions imperfectly 
understood; whilst the purer and nobler souls find inter- 
course painful or impossible, but are yet occasionally able to 
achieve it in those picturesque and beneficent instances where 

212 



WILLINGTON MILL 

their visitation is recorded, not only in the Old and New 
Testaments, but scattered all through literature; cases which 
possibly the many may still deride, but which others cherish 
as indications of the divine and proofs of immortality? Each 
must draw his own conclusions; as the prophet of Treguier 
says, ‘Let us all be free to make our own romance of the 
infinite’.] 

Edmund Procter 

Newcastle-on- Tyne, October 1892 



213 



3. THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 


The enlarged narrative of the Daemon of Tedworth, or 
of the Disturbances at Mr. Mompesson’ s House , caused 
by Witchcraft and the villainy of the Drummer, reprinted 
from ‘Saducismus Triumphatus’ , by the Rev. Joseph 
Glanvil, 1682 


Mr. John Mompesson of Tedworthj in the County of Wilts, 
being about the middle of March, in the Year 1661, at a 
Neighbouring Town called Ludgarshall, and hearing a Drum 
beat there, he inquired of the Bailiff of the Town, at whose 
house he then was, what it meant. The Bailiff told him, that 
they had for some days been troubled with an idle Dr umm er, 
who demanded money of the Constable by virtue of a pre- 
tended pass, which he thought was counterfeit. Upon this 
Mr. Mompesson sent for the fellow, and asked him by what 
authority he went up and down the country in that manner 
with his Drum. The Dr umm er answered, he had good 
authority and produced his pass, with a warrant under the 
hands of Sir William Cawly, and Colonel Ayliff of Gretenham. 
Mr. Mompesson, knowing these gentlemen’s hands, dis- 
covered that the pass and warrant were counterfeit, and there- 
upon commanded the vagrant to put off his Drum, and 
charged the constable to carry him before the next Justice of 
the Peace, to be further examined and punished. The fellow 
then confessed the cheat, andbegged earnestly to have his Drum. 
Mr. Mompesson told him, that if he understood from Colonel 
Ayliff, whose Drummer he said he was, that he had been an 
honest man, he should have it again, but in the me antim e he 
would secure it. So he left the Drum with the B ailiff, and the 
Dru mme r in the Constable’s hands, who it seems was pre- 
vailed on by the Fellow’s intreaties to let him go. 

214 





THE DRUMMER OF TED WORTH 

About tie midst of April following, when Mr. Mompesson 
was preparing for a journey to London, the Bailiff sent the 
Drum to his House* When he was returned from that journey, 
his Wife told him that they had been much affrighted in the 
night by thieves, and that the house had been like to have been 
broken up. And he had not been at home above three Nights, 
when the same noise was heard that had disturbed his family, 
in his absence. It was a very great knocking at his doors, and 
the outsides of his house. Hereupon he got up, and went about 
the house with a brace of pistols in his hands. He opened the 
door where the great knocking was, and then he heard the 
noise at another door. He opened that also, and went out 
round his house, but could discover nothing, only he still 
heard a strange noise and hollow sound. When he was got 
back to bed, the noise was a thumping and dr umming on the 
top of his house, which continued a good space, and then by 
degrees went off into the air. 

After this, the noise of thumping and drumming was very 
frequent, usually five nights together, and then it would inter- 
mit three. It was on the outsides of the House, which is most 
of it of Board. It constantly came as they were going to sleep, 
whether early or late. After a month’s disturbance without, it 
came into the room where the Drum lay, four or five nights in 
seven, within half an hour after they were in bed, continuing 
almost two. The sign of it just before it came, was, they still 
heard an hurling in the air over the house, and at its going off, 
the beating of a Drum like that at the breaking up of a guard. 
It continued in this room for the space of two months, which 
time Mr. Mompesson himself lay there to observe it. In the 
fore part of the night it used to be very troublesome, but 
after two hours all would be quiet. 

Mrs. Mompesson being brought to bed, there was but little 
noise the night she was in travail, nor any for three weeks after, 
till she had recovered strength. But after this civil cessation, 
it returned in a ruder manner than before, and followed and 
vexed the youngest children, beating their bedsteads with that 
violence* that all present expected when they would fall in 
pieces. In laying hands on them, one should feel no blows but 
might perceive them to shake exceedingly. For an hour 

215 



THE DRUMMER OF TED WORTH 

together it would beat, Roundheads and Cuckolds, the Tattoo, 
and several other points of war, as well as any drummer. After 
this, they should hear a scratching under the children’s bed, 
as if by something that had iron talons. It would lift the 
children up in their beds, follow them from one room to 
another, and for a while haunted none particularly but them. 

There was a cock-loft in the house which had not been 
observed to be troubled, thither they removed the children, 
putting them to bed while it was fair day, where they were no 
sooner laid, but their troubler was with them as before. 

On the fifth of November 1662, it kept a mighty noise and a 
servant observing two boards in the children’s room seeming 
to move, he bid it give him one of them. Upon which the board 
came (nothing moving it that he saw) within a yard of him. 
The man added, *Nay let me have it in my hand,’ upon which it 
was shoved quite home to him. He thrust it back, and it was 
driven to him again, and so up and down, to and fro, at least 
twenty times together, till Mr. Mompesson forbade his servant 
such familiarities. This was in the daytime, and seen by a 
whole room full of people. That morning it left a sulphurous 
smell behindit, which was very offensive. At night the Minister, 
one Mr. Cragg, and divers of the neighbours came to the house 
on a visit. The Minister went to prayers with them, kneeling 
at the children’s bedside, where it was then very troublesome 
and loud. During prayer-time it withdrew into the cock-loft, 
but returned as soon as prayers were done, and then in sight of 
the company, the chairs walked about the room of themselves, 
the children’s shoes were hurled over their heads, and every 
loose thing moved about the chamber. At the same time a bed- 
staff was thrown at the Minister, which hit him on the leg, but 
so favourably that a lock of wool could not have fallen more 
softly, and it was observed, that it stopped just where it light- 
ed, without rolling or moving from the place. 

Mr. Mompesson perceiving that it so much persecuted the 
little children, he lodged them out at a neighbour’s house, 
taking his eldest daughter, who was about ten years of age, into 
his own chamber, where it had not been a month before. As 
soon as she was in bed, the disturbance began there again, 
continuing three weeks Drumming, and making other noises, 

216 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 
and it was observed, that it would exactly answer in Drumming 
any thing that was beaten or called for. After this, the house 
where the children were lodged out, happening to be full of 
strangers, they were taken home, and no disturbance having 
been known in the parlour, they were lodged there, where also 
their persecutor found them, but then only pluckt them by 
the hair and night-clothes without any other disturbance. 

It was noted that when the noise was loudest, and came 
with the most sudden and surprising violence, no dog about 
the house would move, though the knocking was oft so 
boisterous and rude, that it hath been heard at a considerable 
distance in the fields, and awakened the neighbours in the 
village, none of which live very near this house. The servants 
sometimes were lift up with their beds, and let them gently 
down again without hurt, at other times it would lie like a 
great weight upon their feet. 

About the latter end of Dec. 1662, the drumming? were less 
frequent^ and they heard a noise like the jingling of money, 
occasioned, as it was thought, by somewhat Mr. Mompesson’s 
mother had spoken the day before to a neighbour, who talked 
of fairies leaving money, viz. That she should like it well, if it 
would leave them some to make amends for their trouble. The 
night after the speaking of which, there was a great dunking 
of money over all the house. 

After this it desisted from the ruder noises and employed it- 
self in little apish and less troublesome tricks. On Christmas 
Eve, a Iitde before day, one of the little boys arising out of his 
bed was hit on a sore place upon his heel, with the latch of 
the door, the pin that it was fastened with was so small that 
it was a difficult matter to pick it out. The night after Christ- 
mas day, it threw the old gentlewoman’s clothes about the 
room, and hid her Bible in the ashes. In such silly tricks it was 
frequent. 

After this, it was very troublesome to a servant of Air. Mom- 
pesson’s, who was a stout fellow, and of sober conversation. 
This man lay within, during the greatest disturbance, and for 
several nights something would endeavour to pluck his clothes 
off the bed, so that he was fain to tug hard to keep them on, and 
sometimes they would be plucked from him by main force, 

217 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 

and his shoes thrown at his head. And now and then he should 
find hims elf forcibly held, as it was bound hand and foot, but 
he found that whenever he could make use of his sword, and 
struck with it, the spirit quitted its hold. 

A little after these contests, a son of Sir Thomas Bennet, 
whose workman the Drummer had sometimes been, came to 
the house, and told Mr. Mompesson some words that he had 
spoken, which it seems was not well taken. For as soon as they 
were in bed, the Drum was beat very violently and loudly, the 
Gentleman arose and called his man to him, who- lay with Mr. 
Mompesson’s servant just now spoken of, whose name was 
John. As soon as Mr. Bennet’s man was gone, John heard a 
rustling noise in his chamber, and something came to his bed- 
side, as if it had been one in silk. The man presently reacheth 
after his sword, which he found held from him, and ’twas 
with difficulty and much tugging that he got it into his power, 
which as soon as he had done, the spectre left him, and it was 
always observed that it still avoided a sword. 

About the beginning of January 1662, they were wont to 
hear a singing in the chimney before it came down. And one 
night about this time, lights were seen in the house. One of 
them came into Mr. Mompesson’s chamber which seemed 
blue and glimmering, and caused great stiflhess in the eyes of 
those that saw it. After .the light something was heard coming 
up the stairs, as if it had been one without shoes. The light 
was seen also four or five times in the children’s chamber; and 
the maids confidently affirm that the doors were at least ten 
times opened and shut in their sight, and when they wore 
opened they heard a noise as if half a dozen had entered together. 
After which some were heard to walk about the room, and one 
rustled as if it had been in silk. The like Mr. Mompesson him- 
self once heard. 

During the time of the knocking, when many were present, 
a gentleman of the company said, Satan, if the Dr umm er set 
thee to work, give three knocks and no more, which it did very 
distincdy and stopped. Then the gentleman knocked to see if it 
would answer him as it was wont, but it did not. For further 
trial, he bid it for confirmation, if it were the Drummer, to give 
five knocks and no more that night, which it did, and left the 

218 



THE DRUMMER OF TED WORTH 

house quiet all the night after. This was done in the presence 
of Sir Thomas Chamberlain of Oxfordshire, and divers others. 

On Saturday mornin g , an hour before day, Jan. io, a Drum 
was heard beat upon the outsides of Mr. Mompesson’s cham- 
ber, from whence it went to the other end of the house, where 
some gentlemen strangers lay, playing at their door and with- 
out, four or five several tunes, and so went off into the air. 

The next night, a smith in the village lying with John the 
man, they heard a noise in the room, as if one had been shoe- 
ing of an horse, and somewhat came, as it were with a pair of 
pincers, snipping at the smith’s nose most part of the night. 

One morning, Mr. Mompesson, rising early to go a journey, 
heard a great noise below, where the children lay, and running 
down with a pistol in his hand, he heard a voice crying, a 
Witch, a Witch, as they had also heard it once before. Upon 
his entrance all was quiet. 

Having one night played some litde tricks at Mr. Mom- 
pesson’s bed’s feet, it went into another bed, where one of his 
daughters lay; there it passed from side to side, lifting her up 
as it passed under. At that time there were three kinds of 
noises in the bed. They endeavoured to thrust at it with a 
sword, but it still shifted and carefully avoided the thrust; still 
getting under the child when they offered at it. The night after 
it came panting like a dog out of breath. Upon which one took 
a bedstaff to knock, which was caught out of her hand, and 
thrown away, and company coming up, the room was presently 
filled with a bloomy noisome smell, and was very hot, though 
without fire, in a very sharp and severe winter. It continued 
in the bed panting and scratching an hour and half, and then 
went into the next chamber, where it knocked a little and 
seemed to rattle a chain; thus it did for two or three nights 
together. 

After this, the old Gentlewoman’s Bible was found in the 
ashes, the paper side being downwards. Mr. Mompesson took 
it up, and observed that it lay open at the third chapter of 
St. Mark, where there is mention of the unclean spirits falling 
down before our saviour, and of his giving power to the twelve 
to cast out devils, and of the scribes’ opinion, that he cast them 
out through Beelzebub. The next night they strewed ashes 

2x9 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 

over the chamber, to see what impressions it would leave. In 
the morning they found in one place, the resemblance of a 
great claw, in another of a lesser, some letters in another, which 
they could make nothing of, besides many circles and scratches 
in die ashes. 

About this time I went to the house, on purpose to inquire 
the truth of those passages, of which there was so loud a 
report. It had ceased from its Drumming and ruder noises 
before I came thither, but most of the more remarkable cir- 
cumstances, before related, were confirmed to me there, by 
several of the neighbours together, who had been present at 
them. At this time it used to haunt the children, and that as 
soon as they were laid. They went to bed that night I was 
there, about eight of the clock, when a maid-servant coming 
down from them, told us it was come. The neighbours that 
were there and two ministers who had seen and heard divers 
times, went away, but Mr. Mompesson and I, and a gentleman 
that came with me went up. I heard a strange scratching as I 
went up ihe stairs, and when we came into the room, I per- 
ceived it was just behind the bolster of the children’s bed and 
seemed to be against the tick. It was as loud a scratching as 
one with long nails could make upon a bolster. There were 
two little modest girls in the bed, between seven and eleven 
years old as I guessed. I saw their hands out of the clothes, and 
they could not contribute to the noise that was behind their 
heads. They had been used to it, and had still somebody or 
other in the chamber with them, and therefore seemed not 
to be much affrighted. I standing at the bed’s head, thrust my 
hand behind the bolster, directing it to the place whence the 
noise seemed to come. Whereupon the noise ceased there, and 
was heard in another part of the bed. But when I had taken 
out my hand it returned, and was heard in the same place as 
before. I had been told that it would imitate noises, and made 
trial by scratching several times upon the sheet, as 5, and 7 and 
10, which it followed, and still stopped at my number. I search- 
ed under and behind the bed, turned up the clothes to the bed- 
cords, grasped the bolster, , sounded the wall behind, and made 
all the search that possibly I could to find if there were any 
trick, contrivance, or common cause of it; the like did my 



THE DRUMMER OF TED WORTH 

friend, but we could discover nothing. So that I was lien 
verily persuaded, and am so still, that the noise was made by 
some demon or spirit. After it had scratched about half an hour 
or more; it went into the midst of the bed under the children, 
and there seemed to pant like a dog out of breath very loudly. 
I put my hand upon the place, and felt the bed bearing up 
against it, as if something within had thrust it up. I grasped the 
feathers to feel if any living thing were in it. I looked under 
and everywhere about, to see if there were any dog or cat, or 
any such creature in the room, and so we all did, but found 
nothing. The motion it caused by this panting was so strong 
that it shook the room and windows very sensibly. It con- 
tinued thus more than half an hour, while my friend and I 
stay’d in the room, and as long after, as we were told. During 
the panting, I chanced to see as it had been something (which 
I thought was a rat or mouse) moving in a Linen Bag, that hung 
up against another bed that was in the room. I stepped and 
caught it by the upper end with one hand, with which I held 
it, and drew it through the other, but found nothing at all in it. 
There was no body near to shake the bag, or if there had, no 
one could have made such a motion, which seemed to be from 
within, as if a living creature had moved in it. This passage I 
mention not in the former editions, because it depended upon 
my single testimony, and might be subject to more evasions 
than the other I related; but having told it to divers learned 
and inquisitive men, who thought it not altogether inconsider- 
able, I have now added it here. It will I know be said by some, . 
that my friend and I were under some affright and so fancied 
noises and sights that were not. This is the eternal evasion. 
But if it be possible to know how a man is affected, when in 
fear, and when unconcerned, I certainly know for mine own 
part, that during the whole time of my being in the room, and 
in the house, I was under no more affirightment than I am, 
while I write this relation. And if I know that I am now 
awake, and that I see the objects that are before me, I know 
that I heard and saw the particulars I have told. There is, I am 
sensible, no great matter for story in them, but there is so 
much as convinceth me, that there was somewhat extra- 
ordinary, and what we usually call preternatural in the business. 
221 



THE DRUMMER OF TED WORTH 

There were other passages at my being at Tedworth, which I 
published not, because they are not such plain and unexcep- 
tionable proofs. I shall now briefly mention them, valeant 
quantum valere possunt. My friend and I lay in the chamber, 
where the first and chief disturbance had been. We slept well 
all night, but early before day in the morning, I was awakened 
(and I awakened my bedfellow) by a great knocking just with- 
out our chamber door. I asked who was there several times, but 
the knocking still continued without answer. At last I said, ‘In 
the name of God who is it, and what would you have?’ To 
which a voice answered, ‘Nothing with you.’ We thinking it 
had been some servant of the house, went to sleep again. But 
speaking of it to Mr. Mompesson when we came down, he 
assured us, that no one of the house lay that way, or had 
business thereabout, and that his servants were not up till he 
called them, which was after it was day. Which they confirmed, 
and protested that the noise was not made by them. 

Mr. Mompesson had told us before that it would be gone 
in the middle of the night, and come again divers times early 
in the morning about four a clock, and this I suppose was 
about that time. 

Another passage was this, my Man coming up to me in the 
morning, told me, that one of my horses (that on which I rode) 
was all in a sweat, and looked as if he had been rid all night. My 
friend and I went down and found him so. I enquired how he 
had been used, and was assured that he had been well fed, and 
ordered as he used to be, and my servant was one that was 
wont to be very careful about my horses. The horse I had had 
a good time, and never knew but that he was very sound. But 
after I had rid him a mile or two, very gently over a plain down 
from Mr. Mompesson’s house, he fell lame, and having made a 
hard shift to bring me home, died in two or three days, no one 
being able to imagine what he ailed. This I confess might be 
accident or some unusual distemper, but all things being put 
together, it seems very probable that it was somewhat else. 

But I go on with Air. Mompesson’s own particulars. There 
came one morning a light into the children’s chamber and a 
voice crying, a Witch, a Witch, for at least an hundred times 
together. 


222 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 

Mr. Mompesson at another time (being in the day) seeing 
some wood move that was in the c himn ey of a room, where he 
was, as of itself, discharged a pistol into it, after which they 
found several drops of blood on the hearth, and in divers 
places of the stairs. 

For two or three nights after the discharge of the pistol, 
there was a calm in the house, but then it came again, applying 
itself to a little child newly taken from the nurse. Which it 
so persecuted, that it would not let the poor infant rest for two 
nights together, nor suffer a candle in the room, but carry 
them away lighted up the chimney, or throw them under the 
bed. It so feared this child by leaping upon it, that for some 
hours it could not be recovered out of the fright. So that they 
were forced again to remove the children out of the house. 
The next night after which, something about midnig ht came 
up the stairs, and knocked at Mr. Mompesson’s door, but he 
lying still, it went up another pair of stairs to his man’s cham- 
ber, to whom it appeared standing at his bed’s foot. The exact 
shape and proportion he could not discover, but he saith he 
saw a great body with two red and glaring eyes, which for 
some time were fixed steadily upon him, and at length dis- 
appeared. 

Another night strangers being present, it purred in the chil- 
dren’s bed like a cat, which time also the clothes and children 
were lift up from the bed, and six men could not keep them 
down; hereupon they removed the children, inten ding to have 
ripped up the bed. But they were no sooner laid in another, but 
the second bed was more troubled than the first. It c ontinu ed 
thus four hours, and so beat the children’s legs ag ains t the 
bed-posts, that they were forced to arise, and sit up all night. 
After this it would empty chamber-pots into their beds, and 
strew them with ashes, though they were never so carefully 
watched. It put a long piked iron into Mr. Mompesson’s bed, 
and into his mother’s a naked knife upright. It would fill 
porringers with ashes, throw everything about, and keep a 
noise all day. 

About the beginning of April 1663, a gentleman that lay in 
the house, had all his money turned black in his pockets; and 
Mr. Mompesson coming one morning into his stable, found 

223 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 

the horse he was wont to ride, on the ground, having one of 
his hinder legs in his mouth, and so fastened there, that it 
was difficult for several men to get it out with a lever. After 
this, there were some other remarkable things, but my account 
goes no further. Only Mr. Mompesson writ me word, that 
afterwards the house was several nights beset with seven or 
eight in the shape of men, who, as soon as a gun was dis- 
charged, would shuffle away together into an arbour. 

The Drummer was tryed at the assizes at Salisbury upon 
this occasion. He was committed first to Gloucester Gaol for 
stealing and a Wiltshire man coming to see him, he asked what 
news in Wiltshire. The visitant said, he knew of none. No, 
saith the Drummer! do not you hear of the Dr umming at a 
gentleman’s house at Tedworth? That I do enough, said the 
other. I, quoth the Drummer, I have plagued him (or to that 
purpose) and he shall never be quiet, till he hath made me 
satisfaction for taking away my Drum. Upon information of 
this, the fellow was tryed for a witch at Sarum, and all the 
main circumstances I have related, were sworn at the Assizes 
by the Minister of the Parish, and divers others of the most 
intelligent and substantial inhabitants, who had been eye and 
ear witnesses of them, time after time for divers years to- 
gether. 

The fellow was condemned to transportation, and accord- 
ingly sent away; but I know not how (’tis said by r aising 
storms, and affrighting the seamen) he made a shift to come 
back again, and ’tis observable, that during all the time, of his 
restraint and absence the house was quiet, but as soon as ever 
he came back at liberty, the disturbance returned. 

He had been a soldier under Cromwell, and used to talk 
much of Gallant Books he had of an odd fellow who was 
counted a wizard. Upon this occasion I shall here add a 
passage, which I had not from Mr. Mompesson, but yet 
relates to the main purpose. 

The gentleman, who was with me at the house, Mr. Hill, 
being in company with one Compton of Somersetshire, 
who practised physick, and pretends to strange matters, 
related to him this story of Air. Mompesson’s disturbance. 
The Physician told him, he was sure it was nothing but a 

224 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 

rendezvous of witches, and that for an hundred pounds, he 
would undertake to rid the house of all disturbance. In pur- 
suit of this discourse, he talked of many high things, and having 
drawn my friend into another room apart from the rest of the 
company, said, he would make him sensible he could do some- 
thing more than ordinary, and asked him who he desired to see. 
Mr. Hill had no great confidence in his talk, but yet being 
earnestly pressed to name some one, he said, he desired to see 
no one so much as his wife, who was then many miles distant 
from them at her home. Upon this Compton took up a looking- 
glass that was in the room, and setting it down again, bid my 
friend look in it; which he did, and there, as he most solemnly 
and seriously professeth, he saw the exact image of his wife in 
that habit which she then wore, and working at her needle in 
such a part of the room (there represented also) in which and 
about which time she really was, as he found upon enquiry 
when he came home. The gentleman himself averred this to me, 
and he is a very sober, intelligent and credible person. Comp- 
ton had no knowledge of him before, and was an utter stranger 
to the person of his wife. The same Man we shall meet again 
in the story of the witchcrafts of Elizabeth Style, whom he 
discovered to be a witch by foretellin g her coming into an 
house, and going out again without speaking, as is set down 
in the third Relation. He was by all counted a very odd 
person. 

Thus I have written the sum of Mr. Mompesson’s dis- 
turbance, which I had partly from his own mouth related 
before divers, who had been witnesses of all, and confirmed 
his relation, and partly from his own letters, from which the 
order and series of things is taken. The same particulars he 
writ also to Dr. Creed then Doctor of the Chair in Oxford. 

Mr. Mompesson is a Gentleman, of whose truth in this 
account I have not the least ground of suspicion, he being 
neither vain nor credulous, but a discreet, sagacious and manly 
person. Now the credit of matters of fact depends much upon 
the relators, who, if they cannot be , deceived themselves, nor 
supposed any ways interested to impose upon others, ought 
to be credited. For upon these circumstances, all humane 
faith is grounded, and matter of fact is not capable of any 

p 225 S.P. 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 

proof besides, but that of immediate sensible evidence. Now 
that he relates be true or no, the scene of all being his own 
house, hims elf a witness, and that not of a circumstance or 
two, but of an hundred, nor for once or twice only, but for the 
space of some years, during which he was a concerned, and 
inquisitive observer. So that it cannot with any show of reason 
be supposed that any of his servants abused him, since in all 
that time he must needs have detected the deceit. And what 
interest could any of his family have had (if it had been possible 
to have managed without discovery) to continue so long, so 
troublesome^ and so injurious an imposture? Nor can it with 
any whit of more probability be imagined, that his own 
melancholy deluded him, since (besides that he is no crazy nor 
imaginat ive person) that humour could not have been so last- 
ing and pertinacious. Or if it were so in him, can we think he 
infected his whole family, and those multitudes of neigh- 
bours and others, who had so often been witnesses of those 
passages? Such supposals are wild, and not like to tempt any, 
but those whose wills are their reasons. So that upon the whole, 
the principal relator Mr. Mompesson himself knew, whether 
what he reports was true or not, whether those things acted 
in his house were contrived cheats, or extraordinary realities. 
And if so, what interest could he serve in carrying on, or 
conniving at a juggling design and imposture? 

He suffered by it in his name, in his estate, in all his affairs, 
and in the general peace of his family. The Unbelievers in the 
matter of spirits and witches took him for an imposter. Many 
others judged the permission of such an extraordinary evil to 
be the judgment of God upon him, for some notorious wicked- 
ness or impiety. Thus his Name was continually exposed to 
censure, and his estate suffered, by the concourse of people 
from all parts to his house, by the diversion it gave him from 
his affairs, by the discouragement of servants, by reason of 
which he could hardly get any to live with him. To which if I 
add the continual hurry that his family was in, the affrights, 
vexations and tossings up and down of his children, and the 
watchings and disturbance of his whole house (in all which, 
himself must needs be the most concerned) I say, if these 
things are considered, there will be little reason to think he 
226 



THE DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH 

could have any interest to put a cheat upon the world, in 
which he would most of all have injured and abused himself. 
Or if he should have designed and managed so incredible, so 
unprofitable a delusion, ’tis strange that he should have 
troubled himself so long in such a business only to deceive, 
and to be talked of. And it is yet more so, that none of those 
many inquisitive persons that came thither purposely to 
criticize and examine the truth of those matters, could make 
any discoveries of the juggling, especially since many came 
prejudiced against the belief of such things in general, and 
others resolved beforehand against the belief of this, and all 
were permitted the utmost freedom of search and enquiry. 
And after thing s were weighed and ex amin ed, some that were 
before greatly prejudiced, went away fully convinced. To all 
which I add, that: 

There are divers particulars in the story, in which no abuse 
or deceit could have been practised, as the motion of Boards 
and Chairs of themselves, the beating of a Drum in the midst 
of a room, and in the air, when nothing was to be seen: the 
great heat in a chamber that had no fire in excessive cold 
weather, the scratching and panting, the violent beating and 
shaking of bedsteads, of which there was no perceivable cause 
or occasion; In these and such like instances, it is not to be 
conceived how tricks could have been put upon so many, so 
jealous, and so inquisitive persons as were witnesses of than. 

Tis true, that when the gentlemen the King sent were there, 
the House was quiet, and nothing seen or heard that night, 
which was confidently and with triumph urged by many, as a 
confutation of the story. But ’twas bad logic to conclude in 
matters of fact from a single Negative and such a one against 
numerous Affirmatives, and so affirm that a thing was never 
done, because not at such a particular time, and that nobody 
ever saw what this man or that did not. By the same way of 
reasoning, I may infer that there were never any robberies 
done on Salisbury Plain, Hounslow Heath, or the other noted 
places, because I have often travelled all those ways, and yet 
was never robbed; and the Spaniard inferred well that said, 
‘There was no Sun in England, because he had been six weeks 
here, and never saw it.’ This is the common argument of those 

227 



THE DRUMMER OF TED WORTH 

that deny the Being of Apparitions, they have travelled all 
hoars of the night, and never saw any thing worse than them- 
selves (which may well be) and thence they conclude, that all 
pretended Apparitions are Fancies or Impostures. But why 
do not such arguers conclude that there was never a Cut- 
purse in London, because they have lived there many years 
without b eing met with by any of those practisers? Certainly he 
that denies Apparitions upon the confidence of this Negative 
against the vast heap of positive assurances, is credulous in 
believing there was never any Highway-man in the world, if 
he himself was never robb’d. And the trials of Assizes and 
attestations of those that have (if he will be just) ought to move 
his assent no more in this case, than in that of Witches and 
Apparitions, which have the very same evidence. 

But as to the quiet of Mr. Mompesson’s house when the 
Courtiers were there, it may be remembered and considered, 
that the disturbance was not constant, but intermitted some- 
times several days, sometimes weeks. So that the intermission 
at that time might be accidental or perhaps the Demon was 
not willing to give so public a testimony of those transactions, 
which possibly might convince those, who he had rather 
should continue in the unbelief of his existence. But how- 
ever it were, this circumstance will afford but a very slender 
interference against the credit of the story, except among those 
who are willing to take any thing for an Argument against 
things which they have an interest not to acknowledge. 

I have thus related the sum of the story, and noted some 
circumstances that assure the truth of it. I confess the pas- 
sages recited are not so dreadful, tragical and amazing, as 
there are some in story of this kind, yet are they nevertheless 
probable or true, for their being not so prodigious and astonish- 
ing. And they are strange enough to prove themselves effects 
of some invisible extraordinary agent, and so demonstrate that 
there are spirits, who sometimes sensibly intermeddle in our 
affairs. And I think they do it with clearness of evidence. For 
these things ware not done long ago, or at far distance, in an 
ignorant age, or among a barbarous people, they were not seen 
by two or three only of the melancholic and superstitious, 
and reported by those that made them serve the advantage and 

228 



THE DRUMMER OF TED WORTH 

interest of a party. They were not the passages of a Day or 
Night, nor the vanishing glances of an Apparition; but these 
transactions were near and late, public, frequent, and divers 
years continuance, witnessed by multitudes of competent and 
unbiassed attestors, and acted in a searching incredulous age: 
arguments enough one would think to convince any modest 
and capable reason. 



229 



4. THE HAUNTING OF HINTON AMPNER 


The narrative of Mrs. Ricketts , reprinted from the ‘Journal 
of the Society for Psychical Research’, Vol. VI,Aprili8g3 


Alary Ricketts was the youngest child of Swynfen Jervis, 
Esq., and Elizabeth Parker, his wife. She was bom at Meaford, 
near Stone, in Staffordshire, in 1737-8. From her early child- 
hood she evinced a love for reading, and an aptitude for mortal 
improvement, which were developed by the wise tr aining of 
Nicholas Tindal, the learned continuer of Rapin’s History 
of England. 

Her veracity was proverbial in the family. Her favourite 
brother and companion was John Jervis, who for his dis- 
tinguished naval services was created Baron Jervis and Earl 
St. Vincent Though his junior by three years, she rapidly 
outstripped him in book learning, and to her superior acquire- 
ments may be traced the unwearied pains which John Jervis 
took to make up for lost time, when, at the age of eighteen, he 
devoted his spare hours to study, instead of sharing in the 
frivolous amusements of West Indian life. 

She married in 1757 William Henry Ricketts, of Canaan, in 
Jamaica, Esq., whose grandfather, William Ricketts, Esq., was 
a captain in Penn and Venable’s army at the conquest of 
Jamaica. Mrs. Ricketts was called upon to accompany her 
husband in his visits to the West Indies, or to remain alone in 
England. The charge of her three infant children det ermin ed 
her to accept the latter alternative in 1769. 

During the absence of Mr. Ricketts in Jamaica, his wife 
continued to inhabit the old Manor House of Hinton Ampner, 
in Hampshire, and it was there that the following series of 
strange disturbances occurred, the effect of which was to 
render her continued occupation of the house an impossibility. 

Mrs. Ricketts was a woman of remarkable vigour, both 

230 





HINTON AMPNER 


physical and mental. Her steadfast faith, and sense of the ever 
abiding presence of God, carried her through many bitter 
trials, and preserved her intellectual powers unimpaired to the 
advanced age of ninety-one, when she calmly resigned her 
spirit into ‘the hands of the God who gave it’. 

(This pamphlet was edited by the third Marquess of Bute.) 

MRS. RICKETTS TO THE REV. MR. NEWBOLT 

Hinton Ampner, Wednesday Morning , August , 1771 
My Dear Sir, 

In compliance with my promise to you of yesterday, I 
would not delay to inform you of the operations of last night. 
It was setded (contrary to the plan when you left) that John, 
my brother’s man, should accompany Captain Luttrell in the 
chintz room, and they remain together till my brother was 
called. Just after twelve they were disturbed with some of the 
noises I had frequently heard and described, and so plainly 
heard by my brother that he quitted his bed long before the 
time agreed on, and joined the other two; the noises frequently 
proceeding from the garrets, they went up just at break of day, 
found all the men servants in their proper apartments, who 
had heard no disturbance whatever. They examined every 
room. Everything appeared snug and in place, and, contrary 
to usual custom, the opening and shutting of doors continued 
(after the other noises ceased) till five o’clock. My brother 
authorizes me to tell you that neither himself nor Captain 
Luttrell can account for what they have heard from any 
natural cause; yet as my brother declares he shall never close 
his eyes in the house, he and Edward are to watch to-night. At 
the same time that I derive satisfaction in my reports being 
fully accredited, I am hurt that the few days and nights he 
hoped to enjoy repose should be passed in the utmost em- 
barrassment and anxiety. 

CAPTAIN JERVIS TO MR. RICKETTS 

Portsmouth, August gtk, 1771 

The circumstances I am about to relate to you, dear Sir, 
require more address than I find myself master of; it is easy to 
undertake but difficult to execute a task of this delicate nature. 

231 



HINTON AMPNER 

To keep you longer in suspense would be painful. I therefore 
proceed to tell you that Hinton Ampner House has been dis- 
turbed by such strange, unaccountable noises from the 2nd of 
April to this day, with little or no intermission, that it is very 
unfit your family should continue any longer in it. The chil- 
dren, happily, have not the least idea of what is doing, but my 
sister has suffered exceedingly through want of rest, and by 
keeping this event in her own breast too long. 

Happy should I have been to have known it earlier, as I 
might have got rid of the alarm with the greatest facility, and 
dedicated myself entirely to her service and support till your 
return; but engaged as I am with the Duke of Gloucester, 
there is no retreating without the worst consequences. You 
will do me the justice to believe I have, during the short space 
this event has been made known to me, employed every means 
in my power to investigate it. Captain Luttrell, I, and my man 
John sat up the night after it was imparted, and I should do 
great injustice to my sister if I did not acknowledge to have 
heard what I could not, after the most diligent search and 
serious reflection, any way account for. Mr. Luttrell had then 
no doubt of the cause being beyond the reach of human under- 
standing. 

My sister having determined on the steps necessary to pur- 
sue, of which she will acquaint you, I think her situation ought 
not to accelerate your return, at least till you are gratified with 
proving the utility of the laborious alterations you have made. 
The strength of judgment, fortitude, and perseverance she has 
shown upon this very trying occasion surpass all example^ and 
as she is harassed, not terrified, by this continual agitation, I 
have no doubt of her health being established the moment she 
is removed from the scene of action and impertinent inquiry, or 
I would risk everything to accompany her to the time of your 
arrival in England; for which and every other blessing Heaven 
can bestow you have the constant prayer of j 

[Addition in Mrs. Ricketts’ hand] 

This letter has just come to hand, and I hope will be in time 
for Mr. Lewis. Since my brother saw me, I am so extremely 
recovered both in health and spirits that there is no longer 

232 



HINTON AMPNER 

room for apprehension, and to the truth of this Mr. and Mrs. 
Newbolt, who have been beyond measure kind to me, have 
set their hand. 

J. M. Newbolt 

S. Newbolt 

As I wrote you so fully two days ago, I have no particulars 
to add, save that the dear children have passed the day here, 
and are very well. — Adieu, my dearest life, 

M. R. 

Hinton Ampner , August 18th 

I omitted to mention there are several people will prove 
similar disturbances have been known at Hinton Ampner 
many years past. 

To William Henry Ricketts, Esq., 

Canaan , near Savannah-la-Mar, Jamaica 

CAPTAIN JERVIS TO MRS. RICKETTS 

Alarm, off Lymington, August 16th, 1771 

Our being wind-bound here, gives me an opportunity to 
repeat my extreme solicitude for the removal of my dearest 
sister from the inquietude she has so long suffered to the 
prejudice of her health. The more I consider the incidents, the 
stronger I see the necessity of a decisive step, and I almost 
think there will be propriety in your giving up the house, &c., at 
Christmas. As you have a long quarter’s notice to give of this, 
your own judgment is a better guide than my opinion, but I 
beg you to resolve never to enter it again, after your London 
residence. . . . God Almighty bless and preserve Mr. R., you, 
and your lovely children, 

Jervis 

MRS. RICKETTS TO W. HENRY RICKETTS, ESQ. 

August 17 th, 1771 

The captain took his final leave of me last week, and greatly 
hurt I was to part with him — he has acted so very affectionately 
to me, and taken that true interest in everything that concerns 

233 



HINTON AMPNER 

me, as I never can forget; and most extraordinary is the sub- 
ject I have to relate. Without the utmost confidence in my 
veracity — which I believe you have— you could not possibly 
credit the strange story I must tell. In order to corroborate my 
relation, the captain means to write to you, and I hope his 
letter will arrive in time for me to enclose. You may recollect 
in a letter I wrote about six weeks ago I mentioned there were 
some thing s in regard to Hinton Ampner you would not find so 
agreeable as when you left it, and I added that I could not 
satisfy your curiosity; nor did I intend it till you came over, had 
it been possible to have rubbed on till then, but when it was 
thought absolutely necessary by my brother and all my friends 
that were consulted that I should quit the place, and that the 
reason of it was so publicly known that you must hear it from 
other hands, we concluded it much more proper you should 
receive the truth from us, than a thousand lies and absurdities 
from others; and much will you feel for what your poor wife 
has undergone, though I cannot in writing transmit all the 
particulars. 

On the 2nd of April last I awoke about two in the morning 
(observe, I lay in the chintz room, having resigned the yellow 
room to Nurse and Mary) and in a few minutes after I heard 
the sound of feet in the lobby. I listened a considerable time at 
the lobby door; the sound drew near; upon this I rang my bell; 
my maid came, we searched the room, nothing to be found; 
Robot was called, and went round with as little success. This 
appeared to me extraordinary, but I should have thought little 
more of it; had I not, and all the servants in the house, except 
Sleepy Jack, heard the strangest noises of knocking, opening 
and shutting of doors, talking, explosions, sometimes as loud 
as the bursting of cannon. 1 

I kept it to myself, tremendous as it was, except telling Mrs. 
Newbolt, till four months were almost expired, when, as I was 
so hurt for want of rest, and thought I could not support it 
much longer, I took the resolution to tell my brother, who 
upon that determined to sit up; Captain Luttrell and his own 
man with him. The noise was heard in the lobby, and in 
different parts of the house; they went all over it, every door 

1 This by me only once. 

234 



HINTON AMPNER 

shut, every person in his room; they were astonished, and the 
next morning they both declared that no house was fit to live 
in where such noises were heard, and no natural cause ap- 
peared. You know how much the notion of haunted houses is 
exploded, and how careful any man would be of asser ting it, 
and in that I think them right; as for myself, I am not afraid or 
ashamed to pronounce that it must proceed from a super- 
natural cause; but why, except as Darby imagines — who passed 
some days with me — there has been a murder c ommit ted that 
remains yet undiscovered, or for some other wise purpose, 
though not yet manifest? I am at a loss to explain the noises 
increasing and coming in the daytime. At length I determined 
quitting the place, and be assured, my dearest life, I did not 
take this painful step while it was possible to continue there; 
and I thank God I am as I am; the want of rest created a little 
fever on my spirits, which the quiet life I have passed with the 
Newbolts, and Dr. Walsh’s prescription, have removed, so 
that you need not have the least uneasiness about me. What- 
ever die cause of these disturbances is, I am sure there has al- 
ways been something of the kind since we have lived here; you 
must recollect often hearing the doors open and shut below 
stairs, and your going down sometimes during the night, and 
finding no person there. The servants have behaved so well, 
and been so cautious, that the children have heard nothing of 
it, which was my great dread; they are now at Winchester, 
which the Bishop desires I will co mman d as my own, and I 
mean to go there next week, when I shall be able to get some 
necessaries from Hinton Ampner, and I can stay at Winchester 
till the cold weather sets in. Sainsbury has behaved in the 
genteelest manner, and is certain Lady Hillsborough would not 
wish us to keep the house a moment longer than it would be a 
convenience. He has wrote to her, and when he receives an 
answer, will c ommuni cate to me; indeed, my dear, we cannot 
think of living there. Strange and recent [sic] as this must 
appear to you, be assured no means of investigating the truth 
has been left untried and that it is no trick — though that is the 
current belief, and that Witerr (?) is concerned — but I know 
neither he nor any human being could carry it on. I have 
received the greatest friendship and attention from all my 

235 



HINTON AMPNER 

neighbours; the Shipleys have been particularly kind in offer- 
ing me the house in town till the middle of January, and doing 
everything to contribute to my peace of mind, and so have the 
Newbolts. I shall not attempt to fix myself till you come over, 
as I can have Winchester, I daresay, till that time, but if we 
should determine on going abroad, it will be very inconvenient 
to have any besides our own family, and by a letter from the 
lieutenant (G. Poyntz Ricketts), I forgot to mention that the 
same noises have been heard by the servants since we quitted 
the house. 

MR. SAINSBURY (LADY HILLSBOROUGH’S AGENT) TO 
MRS. RICKETTS 


September 18th , IJJI 

Madam, 

At my return home, Sunday, I found a letter from Lady 
Hillsborough, in consequence of which I am this day going to 
Hinton Ampner with two of her men to sit up, under the per- 
mission you gave me. 

Her ladyship desires me to present her best compliments to 
you, and to inform you that she is very sorry you have been so 
much disturbed and frightened, and to assure you that she 
will do every thing in her power to find out who have used you 
so ill, and to beg your leave for me and two more to sit up, and 
shoot at the place whence any noise proceeds, and if nothing 
can be discovered by those means, then to advertise a reward 
of fifty guineas to any person that will discover the contriver 
of this wicked scheme. — I am, with great respect, madam, your 
most obedient, humble servant, 

Jno. Sainsbury 

ROBERT CAMIS TO MRS. RICKETTS 

Sunday Morning 

Honoured Madam, 

Mr. Sainsbury left our house about eleven o’clock, fryday, 
but he talked with Mother some, time before he went of, and 
asked her a Great many questions Concerning the Noises. 
She told him Everything as She Could think of, that she had 

236 



HINTON AMPNER 

heard you and all the Rest of us say, he said he had not much 
notion of Spirits, but he Could not tell what God would pleas 
to send to find things out. 

Dr. Dunford Gave me the notis to fasen it to the Curch, so 
I wrote a Coppy of itt and sent itt to you. there is one att Hin- 
ton Ampner, one at B -, 1 and one at K . Dr. Dunford 

told me Mr. Sainsbury gave itt him. but I do not no what day 
itt was — . . . which is all at present from your Dut. Servant 

Robert Camis 


‘the notis 

‘Whareas some evil disposed person or persons have for 
severel Months past frequently made divers kinds of noises in 
the Mantion house occupied by Mrs. Ricketts, att Hinton 
Ampner. This is to give notis that if any person or persons 
will Discover the Auther or Authers thereof to me, such person 
or persons shall Receive a reward of Fifty Guineas, to be paid 
on the Conviction of the offenders, or if any person Concerned 
in makeing such Noises Will Discover his or her Acomplice or 
acomplices therein, such person shall be pardoned, and be 
intitled to the same Reward, to be paid on Conviction of the 
Offender. 

‘Jno. Sainsbury 

* September 20 , 1771. 9 

ROBERT CAMIS TO MRS. RICKETTS 

March ye 8 th 

Honoured Madam, 

I hope you have received a letter that was directed to Hinton 
Ampner. I am very sorrey that we cannot find out the reason 
of die noise, that we might come to Hinton Ampner again, as 
we have not heard anything since. My mother came one 
morning last week, and told me she had dreamed three nights 
after one another that she was upon the great stairs up at the 
landing-place that leads into the garrots, and was troubled in 

1 The initials stand for villages near Hinton Ampner. In the orig- 
inal version every name, of place and person, is represented by an 
initial followed by a blank. (Note by S .S .) 

237 



HINTON AMPNER 

her dreams, and was rambling about a great way, but att the 
end she was always there. One of the nights she dremed she 

was in the road from C , and found a large pair of stuf 

shoes laceed with silver very much, and a pair of gloves with 
a great deal of lace upon itt, and she brought itt to you, and 
shewed itt to you, and then she carreed it to the top of the great 
stairs. 

So she was there in the greatest part of her dreams. So my 
mother and I went up and searched every part we coud think 
of. I pulled up a board in the dark closet in the first garrot 
where there was a litde hole, but found nothing, so we went 
into the lumber garrot that is over the best bedroom, and lookt 
every place we could think of, but found nothing. 

There was a iron chest lockt that we could not open. I took 
it up, shook itt, and there was something like iron rattled, and 
something like a role of paper with itt. So I wrote this to know 
if you new what was in itt — if the key is lost itt will be very 
difficult to open itt. My mother gives her duty to you, and 
hopes you will not be angry for mentioning her dreams to you. 
My Mother and all of us is very well and joyns with me in duty 
from your dutifiill servant, 

Robert Camis 

[Note by Mrs. Ricketts. — The chest was afterwards forced 
open, and nothing found in it save old accounts of no con- 
sequence.] 


ROBERT CAMIS TO MRS. RICKETTS 

Hinton Ampner, Nov. 24th 

Honoured Madam, 

I have not heard any noises in the house myself, but my 
mother and sister Martha was in the kitchen on Wednesday 
last about twelve o’clock, and of a sudden they heard a dismal 
groaning very loud — one thought it was in the housekeeper’s 
room, and the other thought it was over the meal bin— they 
ware both surprized very much, and thought they had better 
go out of doors to see if any body was there, but they found 
no body, and when they came in again they heard no more of 
itt 


238 



HINTON AMPNER 


ROBERT CAMIS TO MRS. RICKETTS 

No Date 

I have heard no noise myself, but on Satterday about eleven 
a dock my mother went home to make her bed, and left sister 
Martha in the chicking att work with her needle. She heard a 
noise like a roleing clap of thunder; it did not surprise her 
because she thought it was thunder, for it gered [jarred?] the 
windows, but she went to the gardner to no if he herd it 
thunder, and he said he did not. About twdve o’clock my 
mother came into the house and said she did not here any 
thunder. The noise appeared to she to be towards the yallow 
room. Itt seemed to role along, which made her think itt was 
thunder. 

Hinton Ampner Parsonage, July yth, 1772 
To my dear children I address the following relation, 
anxious that the truths which I so faithfully have delivered 
shall be as faithfully transmitted to posterity, to my own in 
particular. I determined to commit them to writing, which I 
recommend to their care and attentive consideration, entreat- 
ing them to bear in mind the peculiar mercy of Providence in 
preserving them from all affright and terror during the series 
of wonderful disturbances that surrounded them, wishing 
them to be assured the veracity of their mother was pure and 
undoubted, that even in her infancy it was in the family a 
proverb, and according to the testimony of that excellent par- 
son Chancellor Hoadly she was truth itself ; she writes, not to 
gratify vanity, but to add weight to her relation. 

To the Almight y and Unerring Judgment of Heaven and 
Earth I dare appeal for the truth, to the best of my memory 
and comprehension, of what I here relate. 

Mary Ricketts 

Hinton Ampner, near Aire ford, in Hampshire 
The Mansion House and estate of Hinton Ampner, near 
Alresford, Hampshire, devolved in 1755 to the Right Honour- 
able Henry Bilson Legge in right of his lady, daughter and sole 
heiress of Lord Stawell, who married the eldest daughter and 
co-heiress of Sir Hugh Stewkley, Bart., by whose ancestors the 

239 



HINTON AMPNER 

estate at Hinton Ampner had been possessed many generations 
and by this marriage passed to Mr. Legge on the death of the 
said Sir Hugh. 

Mr. Legge (who on the death of his elder brother became 
Lord Dartmouth) 1 made Hinton Ampner his constant resi- 
dence. Honoria, the youngest sister of his lady, lived with them 
during the life of her sister, and so continued with Lord Y. 
till her death in 1754. 2 

On the evening of April 2nd, 1755, Mr. Legge, sitting alone 
in the little parlour at Hinton Ampner, was seized with a fit of 
apoplexy; he articulated one sentence only to be understood, 
and continued speechless and insensible till the next morning, 
when he expired. 

His lordship’s family at the time consisted of the following 
domestics: Isaac M., house steward and bailiff. Sarah P., 
housekeeper, who had lived in the family near forty years. 
Tho mas P., coa chman, husband to said Sarah, who had lived 
there upwards of forty years. Elizabeth B., housemaid, an old 
servant. Jane D., dairymaid. Mary B., cook. Joseph S., butler. 
Joseph, groom. Richard T., gardener, and so continued by 
Mr. Ricketts. Mr. Legge had one son, who died at West- 
minster School, aged sixteen. 

Thomas P., his wife, and Elizabeth B. continued to have the 
care of the house during the lifetime of Mr. Legge, 3 who usually 

1 1 believe this to be a mistake on the part of the third Marquess of 
Bute who edited the pamphlet for publication, in 1893. Henry Bilson 
Legge did not succeed his brother as 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. (Note 
by S.S.) 

8 A tablet in Hinton Ampner Church records that Honoria Stawell 
died on November 25th, 1754, in the 67th year of her age. 

* Henry Bilson Legge, bom in 1708, third son of the first Earl of Dart- 
mouth, married Mary Stawell, daughter and heiress of Lord Stawell, 
who had married the daughter of Sir Hugh Stewkley of Hinton 
Ampner. She was created Baroness Stawell in her own right. After the 
death of Henry Bilson Legge, who had been Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, Mary Stawell married Wills, first Marquess of Downshire. 
Her younger sister, Honoria, is to be regarded as the villain of this 
piece. Mary Stawell had one son, Henry, 2nd Lord Stawell, who 
married Mary, daughter of Viscount Curzon, and died in 1820, 
when the Barony expired. He left an only daughter, Mary, married 
to John 2nd Lord Sherborne. She died, leaving several children, in 
1864. The estates at Hinton Ampner devolved upon her second son. 
(Note by S. S.). 


240 



HINTON AMPNER 

came there for one month every year in the shooting season. 
On his death, in August, 1764, Lady Stawell, so created in her 
own rights since married to the Earl of Hillsborough, deter- 
mined to let Hinton Ampner Mansion, and Mr. Ricketts took 
it in December following. Thomas P. was at that time lying 
dead in the house. His widow and Elizabeth B. quitted it on 
our taking possession in January, 1765. We removed thither 
from town, and had the same domestics that lived with us there 
and till some time afterwards we had not any house-servant 
belonging to the neighbourhood. Soon after we were settled at 
Hinton Ampner I frequently heard noises in the night, as of 
people shutting, or rather slapping doors with vehemence. 
Mr. Ricketts went often round the house on supposition there 
were either housebreakers or irregularity among his servants. 
In these searches he never could trace any person; the servants 
were in their proper apartments, and no appearance of dis- 
order. The noises continued to be heard, and I could conceive 
no other cause than that some of the villagers had false keys 
to let themselves in and out at pleasure; the only preventive 
to this evil was changing the locks, which was accordingly 
done, yet without the effect we had reasonably expected. 

About six months after we came thither, Elizabeth Brelsford, 
nurse to our eldest son, Henry, then about eight months old, 
was sitting by him when asleep, in the room over the pantry, 
appropriated for the nursery, and, being a hot s umme r’s 
evening, the door was open that faces the entrance into the 
yellow bedchamber, which, with the adjoining dressing-room, 
was the apartment usually occupied by the lady of the house. 
She was sitting direcdy opposite to this door, and plainly saw 
(as she afterwards related) a gentleman in a drab-coloured suit 
of clothes go into the yellow room. She was in no way sur- 
prised at the time, but on the housemaid, Molly Newman, 
c oming up with her supper, she asked what strange gentleman 
was come. Upon the other answering there was no one, she 
related what is already described, and desired her fellow- 
servant to accompany her to search the room; this they did 
immediately without any appearance of what she had seen. 
She was much concerned and disturbed, and she was 
thoroughly assured she could no ways be deceived, the light 
q 241 S.P. 



HINTON AMPNER 

being s uffici ent to distinguish any object clearly. In some time 
after it was mentioned to me. I treated it as the effect of fear 
or superstition, to which the lower class of people are so prone, 
and it was entirely obliterated from my mind till the late 
astonishing disturbances brought to my recollection this and 
other previous circumstances. 

In the autumn of the same year George T , son of the 

gardener of that name, who was then groom, crossing the great 
hall to go to bed, saw at the other end a man in a drab-coloured 
coat, whom he concluded to be the butler, who wore such 
coloured clothes, he being lately come and his livery not made. 
As he passed immediately upstairs to the room where all the 
men servants lay, he was in great astonishment to find the 
butler and other men servants in bed. Thus the person he had 
seen in the hall remained unaccounted for, like the same per- 
son before described by the nurse; and George T , now 

living, avers these particulars in the same manner he first 
related them. 

In the month of July, 1767, about seven in the evening, 
there were sitting in the kitchen, Thomas Wheeler, postilion; 
Ann Hall, my own woman; Sarah, waiting woman to Mrs. 
Mary Poyntz; and Dame Lacy; the other servants were out 
excepting the cook, then employed in washing up her things 
in the scullery. 

The persons in the kitchen heard a woman come downstairs, 
and along the passage leading towards them, whose clothes 
rustled as of the stiffest silk; and on their looking that way, 
the door standing open, a female figure rushed past, and out of 
the house door, as they conceived. Their view of her was 
imperfect; but they plainly distinguished a tall figure in dark- 
coloured clothes. Dame Brown, the cook, instantly co ming in, 
this figure passed close by her, and instantly disappeared. She 
described the person and drapery as before mentioned, and 
they all united in astonishment who or what this appearance 
could be; and their surprise was heightened when a man, 
coming directly into the yard and into the house the way she 
went out, on being asked who the woman was he met, declared 
he had seen no one. 

Ann Hallj since married to John Sparks, now living at 

242 



HINTON AMPNER 

Rogate, near Petersfield, will testify to the truth of this 
relation, as will Dame Brown, now living in Bramdean. The 
postilion is since dead. 

Meanwhile the noises continued to be heard occasionally. 
Miss Parker’s woman, Susan Maidstone, was terrified with 
the most dismal groans and rustling round her bed. At 
different times most of the servants were alarmed with noises 
that could no way be accounted for. In the latter end of the 
year 1769 Mr. Ricketts went to Jamaica; I continued at Hinton 
Ampner with my three infant children and eight servants, 
whose names and connections were as follows: Ann Sparks, 
late Aim Hall, my own woman, the daughter of very industri- 
ous parents. Sarah Homer, nurse, sister to a substantial fanner 
of that name, and of a family of integrity and property. 
Hannah Streeter, nursemaid, of reputable parents and virtu- 
ous principles. Lucy Webb, housemaid, of honest principles. 
Dame Brown, cook, quiet and regular. John Sparks, coa chman. 
John Homer, postilion, aged sixteen years, eldest son to the 
farmer above-mentioned. Lewis Chanson, butler, a Swiss and 

of strict integrity. Richard T -, gardener, but did not live 

in the house. 

I have been thus particular in the description of those per- 
sons of whom my family was composed, to prove the impro- 
bability that a set of ignorant country people, excepting the 
Swiss alone, should league to carry on a diabolical scheme 
imputed to them so injuriously, and which in truth was far 
beyond the art and reach of man to compass. 

Some time after Mr. Ricketts left me, I — then lying in the 
bedroom over the kitchen — heard frequently the noise of some 
one walking in the room within and the rustling as of silk 
clothes against the door that opened into my room, sometimes 
so loud and of such continuance as to break my rest. Instant 
search being often made, we never could discover any appear- 
ance of human or brute being. 

Repeatedly disturbed in the same manner, I made it my 
constant practice to search the room and closets within, and to 
secure the only door that led from that room on the inside in 
such manne r as to be certain no one could gain entrance 
without passing through my own apartment, which was al- 

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HINTON AMPNER 

ways made fast by a draw-bolt on the door. Yet this pre- 
caution did not preclude the disturbance, which continued 
with little interruption. 

About this time an old man, living in the poor-house at 

W M , came and desired to speak to me. When 

admitted, he told me he could not rest in his mind without 
acquainting me that his wife had often related to him that in 
her younger days a carpenter whom she had well known, had 
told her he was once sent for by Sir Hugh Stewkley, and 
directed by him to take up some boards in the dining-room, 
known in our time by the name of lobby, and that Sir Hugh 
had concealed something underneath which he, the car- 
penter, conceived was treasure, and then he was ordered to 
put down the boards in the same manner as they lay before. 
This account I repeated to Mr. Sainsbury, attorney to Lady 
Hillsborough, that if he thought it were a probability he might 
have the floor taken up and examined. 1 

In February, 1770, John Sparks and Ann, his wife, quitted 
my service, and went to live upon their farm at Rogate. In 
place of John Sparks I hired Robert Camis, one of six sons of 
Roger and Mary Camis, of the parish of Hinton Ampner, and 
whose ancestors have been in possession of a little estate there 
upwards of four hundred years — a family noted for their moral 
and religious lives. In the room of Ann Sparks I hired Ruth 
Turpin, but she being disordered in mind continued with me 
but few months. I then took Elizabeth Godin, of Alresford, 
sister to an eminent grocer of that place. Lewis Chanson 
quitted me in August, 1770, and I hired Edward Russel, now 
living with Mr. Harris, of Alresford, to succeed him. 

I mention these changes among my domestics, though in 
themselves unimportant, to evince the impossibility of a con- 
federacy, for the course of nearly seven years, and with a 
succession of different persons, so that at the time of my 
leaving Hinton Ampner I had not one servant that lived with 
me at my first going thither, nor for some time afterwards. 

1 It should be explained that Lady Hillsborough is the same person 
as Mary, Baroness Stawell. Her second husband was created Earl of 
Hillsborough in 1772, and Marquess of Downshire in 1789. He died 
in 1793. (Note by S.S.). 


244 



HINTON AMPNER 

In the summer of 1770, one night that I was lying in the 
yellow bedchamber (the same I have mentioned that the per- 
son in drab-coloured clothes was seen to enter), I had been in 
bed half an hour thoroughly awake, and without the least 
terror or apprehension on my spirits. I plainly heard the foot- 
steps of a man, with plodding step, walking towards the foot 
of my bed. I thought the danger too near to ring my bell for 
assistance, but sprang out of bed and in an instan t was in the 
nursery opposite; and with Hannah Streeter and a light I 
returned to search for what I had heard, but all in vain. There 
was a light burning in the dressing-room within, as usual, and 
there was no door or means of escape save at the one that 
opened to the nursery. This alarm perplexed me more than 
any preceding, being within my own room, the footsteps as 
distinct as ever I heard, myself perfectly awake and collected. 

I had, nevertheless, resolution to go to bed alone in the same 
room, and did not form any conclusion as to the cause of this 
very extraordinary disturbance. For some months afterwards 
I did not hear any noise that particularly struck my attention, 
till, in November of the same year, I then being removed to the 
chintz bedroom over the hall, as a warmer apartment, I once 
or twice heard sounds of harmony, and one night in particular 
I heard three distinct and violent knocks as given with a club, 
or something very ponderous against a door below stairs; it 
occurred to me that housebreakers must be forcing into some 
apartment, and I immediately rang my bell. No one hearing 
the summons and the noise ceasing, I thought no further of it 
at that time. After this, and in the be ginning of the year 1771, 
I was frequently sensible of a hollow murmuring that seemed 
to possess the whole house; it was independent of wind, being 
equally heard on the calmest nights, and it was a sound I had 
never been accustomed to hear. 

On the mornin g of the 27th of February, when Elizabeth 
Godin came into my room, I inquired what weather. She 
replying in a very faint tone, I asked if she were ill. She said 
she was well, but had never in her life been so terrified as 
during the preceding night; that she had heard the most dis- 
mal groans and fluttering round her bed most part of the night, 
that she had got up to search the room and up the chimney, 

245 



HINTON AMPNER 

and though it was a bright moonlight she could not discover 
any thing. I did not pay much attention to her account, but it 
occurred to me that should anyone tell her it was the room 
formerly occupied by Mrs. P., the old housekeeper, she would 
be afraid to lie there again. Mrs. P. dying a few days before at 
K ■, was brought and interred in Hinton Ampner church- 

yard the evening of the night this disturbance happened. 

That very day five weeks, being the 2nd of April, I waked 
between one and two o’clock, as I found by my watch, which, 
with a rushlight, was on a table dose to my bedside. I lay 
thoroughly awake for some time, and then heard one or more 
persons walking to and fro in the lobby adjoining. I got out of 
bed and listened at the door for the space of' twenty minutes, 
in which time I distinctly heard the walking with the addition 
of a loud noise like pushing strongly against a door. Being thus 
assured my senses were not deceived I determined to ring my 
bell, to which I had before much reluctance on account of 
disturbing the nursery maid, who was very ill of a fever. 

Elizabeth Godin during her illness lay in the room with my 
sons, and came immediately on hearing my bell. Thoroughly 
convinced there were persons in the lobby, before I opened 
my door, I asked her if she saw no one there. On her replying 
in the negative, I went out to her, examined the window, 
which was shut, looked under the couch, the only furniture of 
concealment there; the chimney board was fastened, and when 
removed, all was dear behind it. She found the door into the 
lobby shut, as it was every night. After this examination I 
stood in the middle of the room, pondering with much aston- 
ishment, when suddenly the door that opens into the little 
recess leading to the yellow apartment sounded as if played to 
and fin by a person standing behind it. This was more than I 
could bear unmoved. I ran into the nursery and rang the bell 
there that goes into the men’s apartments. Robert C amis came 
to the door at the landing place, which door was every night 
secured, so that no person could get to that floor unless 
through the windows. Upon opening the door to Robert I told 
him the reason I had to suppose that someone was intrenched 
behind the door I before mentioned, and giving him a light 
and arming him with a billet of wood, myself and Elizabeth 

246 



HINTON AMPNER 

Godin waited the event. Upon opening the door there was not 
any being whatever, and the yellow apartment was locked, the 
key, hanging up, and a great bolt drawn across the outside 
door, as usual when not in use. There was then no further 
retreat or hiding place. After dismissing Robert and securing 
the door, I went to bed in my sons’ room, and about half an 
hour afterwards heard three distinct knocks, as described 
before; they seemed below, but I could not then or ever after 
ascertain the place. The next night I lay in my own room; I 
now and then heard noises and frequently the hollow murmur. 

On the 7th of May, exactly the day five weeks from the 2nd 
of April, this murmur was uncommonly loud. I could not 
sleep, apprehending it the prelude to some greater noise. I 
got up and went to the nursery, stayed there till half an hour 
past three, and then, being daybreak, I thought I should get 
some sleep in my own apartment; I returned and lay till ten 
minutes before four, and then the great hall door directly 
under me was slapped to with the utmost violence, so as to 
shake my room perceivably. I jumped out of bed to the win- 
dow that commands the porch. There was light to distinguish 
every object, but none to be seen that could account for what 
I had heard. Upon examining the door it was found fast locked 
and bolted as usual. 

From this time I determined to have my woman lie in a 
little bed in my room. The noises grew more frequent, and she 
was always sensible of the same sounds, and much in the same 
direction as they struck me. Harassed and perplexed, I was yet 
very unwilling to divulge my embarrassment. I had taken 
every method to investigate the cause, and could not discover 
the least appearance of trick; on the contrary, I became con- 
vinced it was beyond the power of any mortal agent to per- 
form, but knowing how exploded such opinions were, I kept 
them in my own bosom, and hoped my resolution would en- 
able me to support whatever might befall. 

After Midsummer the noises became every night more 
intolerable. They began before I went to bed, and with inter- 
missions were heard till after broad day in the morning. I 
could frequently distinguish articulate sounds, and usually a 
shrill female voice would begin, and then two others with 

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HINTON AMPNER 

deeper and manlike tone seemed to join in the discourse, yet, 
though this conversation sounded as if close to me, I never 
could distinguish words. 

I have often asked Elizabeth Godin if she heard any noise, 
and of what sort. She as often described the se eming con- 
versation in the manner I have related, and other noises. One 
night in particular my bed curtains rustled, and sounded as if 
dragged by a person walking against them. I then asked her if 
she heard any noise and of what kind. She spoke of it exactly in 
the maimer I have done. Several times I heard sounds of har- 
mony within the room — no distinct or regular notes, but a 
vibration of harmonious tones; walking, talking, knocking, 
opening and slapping of doors were repeated every night. My 
brother, who had not long before returned from the Medi- 
terranean, had been to stay with me, yet so great was my reluc- 
tance to relate anything beyond the bounds of probability that 
I could not bring myself to disclose my embarrassed situation 
to the friend and brother who could most essentially serve and 
comfort me. The noises continuing in the same manner when 
he was with me, I wished to learn if he heard them, and one 
morning I carelessly said: ‘I was afraid last night the servants 
would disturb you, and rang my bell to order them to bed.’ 
He replied he had not heard them. The morning after he left 
me to return to Portsmouth, about three o’clock and daylight, 
Elizabeth Godin and myself both awake — she had beat sitting 
up in bed looking round her, expecting as she always did to see 
something terrible — I heard with infinite astonishment the 
most loud, deep, tremendous noise which seemed to rush and 
fell with infinite velocity and force on the lobby floor adjoining 
to my room. I started up, and called to Godin, ‘Good God! did 
you hear that noise?’ She made no reply; on repeating the 
question she answered with a faltering voices ‘She was so 
frightened she scarce durst speak’. Just as that instant we 
heard a shrill and dreadful shriek, see min g to proceed from 
under the spot where the rushing noise fell, and repeated 
three or four times, growing fainter as it seemed to descend, 
till it sank into earth. Hannah Streeter, who lay in the room 
with my children, heard the same noises, and was so appalled 
she lay for two hours almost deprived of sense and motion. 

248 



HINTON AMPNER 

Having heard little of the noises preceding and that little she 
did not regard, she had rashly expressed a wish to hear more of 
them, and from that night till she quitted the house there was 
scarce a night passed that she did not hear the sound as if some 
person walked towards her door, and pushed against it, as 
though attempting to force it open. This alarm, so more than 
commonly horrible, determined me to impart the whole 
series to my brother on his return to Hinton Ampner, expected 
in a week. The frequency of the noises, harassing to my rest, 
and getting up often at unreasonable hours, fixed a slow fever 
and deep cough, my health was much impaired, but my 
resolution* firm. I remained in anxious expectation of my 
brother, and he being detained a week longer at Portsmouth 
than he had foreseen, it occurred to me to endeavour, by 
changing my apartment, to obtain a little rest; I removed to 
that formerly occupied by Elizabeth Godin; I did not mention 
my intention till ten at night, when the room was prepared, 
and I went to bed soon after. I had scarce lain down when the 
same noises surrounded me that I before related, and I men- 
tion the circumstance of changing my room without previous 
notice, to prove the impossibility of a plan of operations being 
so suddenly conveyed to another part of the house were they 
such as human agents could achieve. The week following I 
was comforted by the arrival of my brother. However desirous 
to impart the narrative, yet I forbore till the next morning; I 
wished him to enjoy a night’s rest, and therefore contented 
myself with preparing him to hear on the morrow the most 
astonis hing tale that ever assailed his ears, and that he must 
s umm on all his trust of my veracity to meet my relation. He 
replied it was scarce possible for me to relate any matter he 
could not believe, little divining the nature of what I had to 
offer to his faith. 

The next morning I began my narrative, to which he 
attended with mixed surprise and wonder. Just as I had 

finis hed. Captain Luttrell, our neighbour at K , chancing 

to call, induced my brother to impart the whole to him, who 
in a very friendly manner offered to unite his endeavours to 
investigate the cause. It was then agreed he should come late 
in the evening, and divide the night watch between them, 

249 



HINTON AMPNER 

keeping profoundly secret there was any such intention. My 
brother took the precaution, accompanied by his own servant, 
John Bolton, to go into every apartment, particularly those on 
the first and attic storey, examined every place of concealment, 
and saw each door fastened, save those to chambers occupied 
by the family ; this done, he went to bed in the room over the 
servants’ hall. 

Captain Luttrell and my brother’s m a n with arms sat up in 
the chintz room adjoining, and my brother was to be called on 
any alarm. 

I lay that night in Elizabeth Godin’s room, and the children 
in the nurseries; thus every chamber on that floor was occupied. 
I bolted and locked the door that opened to that floor from the 
back stairs, so that there was no entrance unless through the 
room where Captain Luttrell kept watch. 

As soon as I lay down, I heard a rustling as of a person close 
to the door. I ordered Elizabeth Godin to sit up a while, and if 
the noise continued, to go and acquaint Mr. Luttrell. 

She heard it, and instantly Mr. Luttrell’s room door was 
thrown open, and we heard him speak. 

I must now give his account as related to my brother and 
myself the next morning. 

He said he heard the footsteps of a person walking across the 
lobby, that he instantly threw the door open, and called, ‘Who 
goes there?’ That something flitted past him, when my 
brother directly called out ‘Look against my door.’ He was 
awake, and heard what Mr. Luttrell had said, and also the 
continuance of the same noise till it reached his door. He arose 
and joined Mr. Luttrell. Both astonished, they heard various 
other noises, examined everywhere, found the staircase door 
fast secured as I had left it. I lay so near, and had never closed 
, my eyes, no one could go to that door unheard. My brother and 
his man proceeded up stairs, and found the servants in their 
own rooms, and all doors closed as they had seen just before. 
They sat up together, my brother and Mr. Luttrell, till break 
of day, when my brother returned to his own chamber. About 
that time, as I imagined, I heard the chintz room door opened 
and slammed to with the utmost violence, and immediately 
that of the hall chamber opened and shut in the same manner. 

250 



HINTON AMPNER 

I mentioned to Godin my surprise that my brother, who was 
ever attentive not to alarm or disturb the children, should 
hazard both by such vehement noise. An hour after I heard the 
house door open and slam in the same way, so as to shake the 
house. No one person was then up, for as I had never slept, I 
heard the servants rise and go down about half an hour after- 
wards. When we were assembled at breakfast, I observed the 
noise my brother had made with the doors. 

Mr. Luttrell replied, ‘I assure you Jervis made not the least 
noise; it was your door and the next I heard opened and 
slapped in the way you describe.’ 

My brother did not hear either. He afterwards acknowledged 
to me that when gone to bed and Mr. Luttrell and I were sit- 
ting below, he heard dreadful groans and various noises that 
he was then and after unable to account for. His servant was at 
that time with mine below. 

Captain Luttrell declared the disturbances of the preceding 
night were of such a nature that the house was an unfit resi- 
dence for any human being. My brother, though more 
guarded in his expressions, concurred in that opinion, and the 
result of our deliberations was to send an express to Mr. 
Sainsbury, Lady Hillsborough’s steward, to request he would 
come over immediately on a very particular occasion, with 
which he would be made acquainted on his arrival. 

Unluckily, Mr. Sainsbury was confined with the gout, and 
sent over his clerk, a youth of fifteen, to whom we judged it 
useless and improper to divulge the circumstances. 

My brother sat up every night of the week he then passed at 
Hinton Ampner. In the middle of one of these nights, I was 
surprised with the sound of a gun or pistol let off near me, 
immediately followed by groans as of a person in agonies, or 
expiring, that seemed to proceed between my chamber and the 
next, the nursery. I sent Godin to Nurse Homer, to ask if she 
had heard any noise; she had not. Upon my inquiry the next 
mo rning of my brother, he had [not] heard it, though the 
report and groans were loud and deep. 

Several instances occurred where very loud noises were 
heard by one or two persons, when those equally near and in 
the same direction were not sensible of the least impression. 

251 



HINTON AMPNER 

As the watching every night made it necessary for my 
brother to gain rest in the day, he usually lay down after 
dinner . During one of these times he was gone to rest, I had 
sent the children and their attendants out to walk, the dairy- 
maid had gone to milk, the cook in the scullery, my own 
woman with my brother’s man sitting together in the ser- 
vants’ hall; I, reading in the parlour, heard my brother’s bell 
ring with great quickness. I ran to his room, and he asked me 
if I had heard any noise, ‘because’, said he, ‘as I was lying wide 
awake an immense weight seemed to fall through the ceiling 
to the floor just by that mahogany press, and it is impossible I 
should be deceived’. His man was by this time come up, and 
said he was sitting underneath the room as I before mentioned, 
and heard not the least noise. The inquiry and attention my 
brother devoted to investigate this affair was such as from the 
reach of his capacity and ardent spirit might be expected; the 
result was his earnest request that I would quit the place, and 
when obliged to return to Portsmouth, that I would permit 
him to send Mr. Nichols, his Lieutenant of Marines, and an 
old friend of the family, to continue till my removal with me. 

One circumstance is of a nature so singularly striking that I 
cannot omit to relate it. In one of our evening’s conversations 
on this wonderful train of disturbances I mentioned a very 
extraordinary effect I had frequently observed in a favourite 
cat that was usually in the parlour with me, and when sitting 
on table or chair with accustomed unconcern she would 
suddenly slink down as if struck with the greatest terror, con- 
ceal herself under my chair, and put her head dose to my feet. 
In a short space of time she would come forth quite uncon- 
cerned. I had not long given him this account before it was 
verified to him in a striking manner. We neither then, nor I at 
other times, perceived the least noise that could give alarm to 
the animal, nor did I ever perceive the like effect before these 
disturbances, nor afterwards when she was removed with me 
to another habitation. The servants gave the same account of 
a spaniel that lived in the house, but to that, as I did not wit- 
ness, I cannot testify. 

There is another copy, and no more to be taken unless 

either be destroyed. , r _ 

Mary Ricketts 



HINTON AMPNER 

These two narratives are for my grand-daughters Martha 
and Henrietta Jervis, not to be read until twenty-one or up- 
wards, nor then unless their nerves are firm. The letters, &c., 
belonging to be carefully preserved. 


FIRST NARRATIVE IN MRS. RICKETTS’S HAND- 
WRITING. TO BE READ AT LEISURE 

£6o reward was offered on discovery by Marchioness of 
Downshire, which Mr. Ricketts on his return, increased to 
£ 100 . The Bishop of Winchester lent me the old Palace at 
Winchester, to occupy at races or on any public occasion, and 
thither I removed when it was no longer thought proper I 
should remain at Hinton Ampner; and when I left, the Bishop 
of St. Asaph offered me his house in town, where I stayed till 
I had taken one in Curzon Street. 

What determined my removal to Winchester was, after 
trying to obtain rest by removing to Dame Camis’s house, 
when I returned to the mansion I was soon after assailed by a 
noise I never before heard, very near me, and the terror I felt 
not to be described. It then appeared I was no longer to be 
supported, after my brother was convinced I ought not to delay 
my removal. I therefore accepted the earnest invitation of my 
friends Mr. and Mrs. Newbolt, and continued with them till 
Winchester was prepared for my dear children, where we 
remained till November, with the exception of three days, with 

Dr. Gilbert^ Canon of S , and his daughter; and there 

Lord Radnor — then Lord Folkestone — was very desirous to 
see the lady that came from the haunted house. 

The Bishop of St. Asaph opposed, on the ground that such 
means were unworthy the Deity to employ, while the good 
Bishop of Winchester, when I related that Robert Camis had 
been thrice called at the window in a voice he well remem- 
bered, that of the steward of the late Lord Dartmouth, 1 said he 
should have conjured him by the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost; which I told him but believe no such occasion occurred, 

1 Henry Bilson Legge. As previously noted, we think that he did 
not succeed as Earl of Dartmouth. (Note by S.S.) 

253 



HINTON AMPNER 

or courage failed. This steward stole his lord’s gold buckles, 
and was much suspected of other dishonesty; whence, probably 
arose the idea of concealed treasure. I never heard that any 
was found. 

When Lord Dartmouth was seized with the fit that carried 
him off, he called to his man, ‘Cut a vein, cut a vein!’ but no 
vein was cut. Of the excellent Dame Camis, from whom I 
had much information of the Stawell and Legge family. Dr. 

Dumford, minister of B , who performed duly at Hinton 

Ampner, also told me that, in the number of years he had 
officiated, he had never known her miss Divine Service, unless 
illness of any one of her family or of herself prevented. 

When Mr. Ricketts returned from Jamaica, having con- 
tinued to keep Hinton Ampner on account of our catde and the 
manor, Mr. Ricketts took the Parsonage, where we resided for 
two years, when the purchase of Longwood was made, and we 
removed thither. 

NARRATIVE NO. 2, IN MRS. RICKETTS’S HAND- 
WRITING, AND ATTESTED BY HER SECOND SON, 
EDWARD JERVIS RICKETTS, AFTERWARDS VIS- 
COUNT ST. VINCENT 

After Mrs. Ricketts had quitted Hinton Ampner House, and 
before possession had been given to Lady Hillsborough, the 
keys were left with Dame Camis, who came over every fair 
day to open the windows, she living dose by. 

Mr. George Ricketts and Mr. Poyntz Ricketts, active young 
men in the prime of life, were walking to and fro dose to the 
house on the paddock side, when a great noise was heard 
within it, upon which one of them said, ‘They are at their 
tricks again, let us go in and see.’ They lost no time getting 
through the drawing-room window on the ground floor, and 
proceeding throughout the house. No living creature was to be 
found in it, neither was there any appearance of any thing that 
could have been moved so as to occasion the sounds they 
heard. 

(Signed) Edward Jervis Ricketts 


254 



HINTON AMPNER 


NARRATIVE NO. 3.— NOTES TAKEN BY OSBORNE 
MARKHAM, ESQ., FROM MRS. RICKETTS’S DICTATION 

Miss Parker, mentioned in this narrative, was afterwards 
Lady St. Vincent, who with her sister (afterwards Mrs. Heath- 
cote) was staying in the house during the time their father. 
Chief Baron Parker, was going the circuit. 

It is understood that when Mrs. Ricketts left Hinton 
Ampner she went to the palace of the Bishop of Winchester, of 
which his kindness gave her the occasional use, she being an 
intimate friend and relation to his wife. After Mrs. Ricketts left 
Hinton Ampner (say within a year) another family (Mr. 
Lawrence) came to reside there, who stayed about a year and 
then suddenly quitted it. 

After this the house was never occupied. On being pulled 
down there was found by the workmen under the floor of one 
of the rooms a small skull, said to be that of a monkey; but the 
matter was never brought forward by any regular inquiry, or 
professional opinion resorted to as to the real nature of the 
skull. 

The first appearance of anything being seen or heard was 
before Mrs. Ricketts took possession of Hinton Ampner, 
which did not come to her knowledge until some time after the 
disturbances had been heard in the house. Joseph (the groom) 
then being one of the servants left in occupation of the house, 
and being in bed in the garret, the moon shining brightly into 
the room, and he being clearly awake, saw a man in a drab 
coat with his hands behind him, in the manner his late master 
held than, looking steadfastly upon him. 

Note by Martha H. G. Jervis. — A number of papers 
(broadsides, &c.) which had been concealed during the civil 
wars were found under the floor of the lobby when the house 
was pulled down, and a small box containing what was said to 
be the skull of a monkey. 

Notes in the handwriting of Martha Honora Georgina Jer- 
vis, elder of Mrs. Ricketts’s two grand-daughters, to whom the 
manuscripts were left, and second wife of Osborne Markham, 
Esq., the writer of the foregoing pages: 


255 



HINTON AMPNER 


NARRATIVE BY MARTHA H. G, JERVIS 

Rosehill,July ioih> 1818 

I called on old Lucy Camis at the farm and inquired if she 
had recently heard of Hannah Streeter. She replied that she 
lived at the Lower Brook, Winchester, and that she (Lucy) had 
been to see her last year, and asked if she remembered having 
been disturbed by the noises at Hinton Ampner, particularly 
one night when the other servants were gone to bed, when, 
being in the servants’ hall, they heard a sound as of the great 
iron brazier failing through the roof of the pantry (over which 
there was no room), and that it went ‘Twirl! twirl! twirl T till 
it sank in the ground. They were so much terrified that Lucy 
would not venture up to the garrets, but slept that night in the 
nursery. They found the brazier the next morning in the place 
where it had been left. 

When Lord St. Vincent was in the house, and the servants 
were suspected of making the disturbances, Mrs. Ricketts 
went one night for something she wanted to the housekeeper’s 
room, which opened into the kitchen, where the domestics 
were all assembled at supper. She then heard noises, and was 
near feinting, and called to some one to accompany her up to 
her brother. 

The morning after Mrs. P.’s interment Elizabeth Godin 
complained to the other servants that she had been dreadfully 
disturbed the preceding night, and that soon after she was in 
bed something fell with force against the window, succeeded 
by a dismal groan. 

Lucy said, ‘God knows whether these noises were not in 
consequence of their sins.’ 

I replied, ‘What did you suppose they were guilty of?’ 

She said, ‘God knows whether she had a child and killed it; 
but I cannot say; it is not for us to suspect them, God knows.’ 

She spoke of Mrs. Ricketts in the highest terms and with 
many tears; said she did so much good in the neighbourhood 
that it was very unlikely any should seek to drive her away, 
above all, her servants, who loved her and were in perfect 
harmony with each other. 

One night Lucy slept in a small bed in Mrs. Ricketts’s 

25 6 



HINTON AMPNER 

room, Elizabeth Godin being ill. Mrs. Ricketts woke her . 
and asked her if she did not hear music, which she did, and 
‘the steps of some one moving stately to it’. The noises seemed 
mostly in the lobby and the yellow and adjoining chambers. 

Lucy said that when Mr. Lawrence afterwards took posses- 
sion of the house he forbid the servants from saying a word of 
the disturbances under penalty of losing their places. She 
heard that once, as his housemaid was standing in the lobby, a 
female figure rushed by and disappeared, but of the truth of 
this she could not vouch. 

The foregoing information was given me by Lucy Camis, 
who was perfectly collected, and I merely made sudd queries 
as should lead her on without in any degree prompting her 
recollection. 

Martha H. G. Jervis 

NOTES AND REMARKS BY THE THIRD MARQUESS OF BUTE 

This case is very interesting, and seems of greater evidential 
value than many in which it is possible to interrogate the wit- 
nesses, because, although the events took place 120 years ago, 
the witnesses in this instance were very numerous and various 
as well as simultaneous and consentient, some of them of 
quite exceptional intelligence, and very great trouble was taken 
to observe and sift the facts, and to record them at the time in 
the numerous documents heretofore reprinted. 

What small and hypothetical explanation the phenomena will 
bear must depend in a great measure upon the history of the 
house, and the following notes have been compiled not only 
from the printed pamphlet but also from Burke’s Extinct 
Baronetage , and his Extinct Peerage, and Extant Peerage, and 
Collins’s Peerage. 

The family whose home this house was, was an ancient one, 
but was originally of M., in S — hire. The first who lived at 
Hinton Ampner appears to have been Sir Thomas Stezokley, 
knight, described in the Heraldic Visitation of 1623 (Berry’s 
County Genealogist— Hants) as ‘Sir Thomas [Stewkley] of 
M , and now of Hinton Ampner, 1623’. It seems not im- 

probable that he built the house, which is described in the 

R ' 257 S.P. 



HINTON AMPNER 

pamphlet as ‘the old manor-house’. It is a pity that there is no 
description, plan, or drawing of the house. It seems to have 
been small, as all the servants except the housekeeper or lady’s 
maid, and the nurse, slept in the attics, and Mrs. Ricketts re- 
marks that when two people were staying there every room on 
the bedroom floor was occupied. On the ground floor there was 
a drawing-room, probably also the little parlour (unless these 
were the same) where Lord Dartmouth was taken ill, and, it is 
to be presumed, a dining-room. There was also a large hall, 
seemingly used as a servants’ hall. There were two staircases, 
a principal and a back stair, and from the foot of one of these a 
passage ran past the kitchen to an outer door, perhaps the 
main house door. Off the kitchen was a housekeeper’s room, 
and near it a scullery. There was also a pantry, over which 
there was no room. On the bedroom floor there was a principal 
bedroom, the yellow one, which had a dressing-room opening 
near the back stair. The yellow bedroom itself opened into a 
recess, and this into a lobby, a place with one window and a 
fireplace, which Mrs. Ricketts says had been used as a dining- 
room. Opposite the door of the yellow room was that of the 
nursery; over the hall was another bedroom, called the chintz 
room, and another room. On this floor also there was at least 
one other room, usually occupied by the housekeeper or lady’s 
maid. At the top of the principal staircase was a landing from 
which was a way to go up to the attics. 

Sir Thomas married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of 

John G. of W , B shire, son and heir of Sir John G. 

of the same, and had at least three sons, Hugh, Thomas, and 
John. He was probably an old man in 1623, as his sister Joan - 

had married George L., of D , S shire, who was High 

Sheriff of that county in 1593. He seems to have died soon 
after the visitation, as his eldest son. Sir Hugh X., was created 
a baronet in 1627. He is said to have married Sarah, daughter 

and co-heir of Ambrose D., of L., W shire) and to have 

died about 1642. 

Sir Hugh Stewkley, son of the preceding, and second baronet 
is the Sir Hugh Stewkley mentioned in the pamphlet as having 
concealed some papers under the floor of the dining-room, 
called by the Ricketts the lobby. These papers are stated to 

258 



HINTON AMPNER 

have been found when the house was pulled down, and to have 
been ‘broadsides, &c., which had been concealed during the 
civil wars’. They were probably compromising under the 
Republican Government, but, after the Restoration, were 
either forgotten by Sir Hugh or regarded with indifference. 
Under this floor also was found a small box containing a little 
skull, which ‘was said to be that of a monkey; but the matter 
was never brought forward by any regular inquiry or profes- 
sional opinion resorted to as to the real nature of the skull’. It is 
not stated whether the box containing this curious object was 
found along with the papers, or under another part of the 
floor. It is impossible to conceive any motive to induce either 
Sir Hugh or anybody else who possessed a monkey’s skull as a 
zoological curiosity — the only reason why they could have had 
it at all— to bury it in a box underneath a floor. It is not stated 
whether the skull fitted closely into the box, or whether there 
might have been room for anything else. A further remark will 
be made on this skull at the end of this paper. 

This Sir Hugh Stewkley married twice. His first wife was 

Catherine, daughter and heir of Sir John T., of L , H 

shire, only baronet of that name, as created in 1660, and who 
died without male issue in 1672. His second wife was Mary, 
daughter of John Y . It is not stated which of these ladies was 
the mother of Mary Stewkley, afterwards Mrs. Stawell. Sir 
Hugh can scarcely have been less than 80 years of age when 
he died in 1719, and as he left no male issue, the baronetcy 
became extinct. He seems to have left several daughters, but 
I have only the names of Mary, the eldest, and Honoria, the 
youngest. 

Mary Stawell was married on May 10th, 1719 (the same 
year as her father’s death, but doubtless before that event), to 
Edward Stawell, third son of Ralph Stawell, first Lord Stawell 

of S , S shire, Mrs. Stawell had issue a son S., who 

died, at Westminster School, aged 16, and a daughter, Mary. 
She herself died in July, 1740. 

Edward Stawell, her widower, continued to live constantly at 
Hinton Ampner, and with him continued to reside her sister 
Honoria, as she had already been used to do in her sister’s 
lifetime. Collins usually gives very full biographical notices, 

259 



HINTON AMPNER 

but this case is a curious exception, as he gives nothing but 
allianc es and a very few dates. That of Edward Stawell’s birth 
is not mentioned, but as his father died on August 5th, 1689, 
he cannot have been under 50 years of age at the death of his 
wife in 1740. His daughter Mary married, September 3rd, 
1750, the Right Hon. Henry Bilson Legge, fourth son of 
William Legge, first Earl of Dartmouth. On the death of the 
second of his elder brothers, January 23rd, 1742, he suc- 
ceeded to the peerage of Y. 1 According to Collins he died at 

A , B shire (which is there called his seat, but which 

appears more probably to have been that of his niece Charlotte, 
daughter of his brother the third Lord Dartmouth, in right of 
her mother, whose property it was), on April 13th, 1755, and 
was buried at Hinton Ampner; but according to the pamphlet, 
which appears more likely to be correct, he died suddenly, 
at Hinton Ampner, on the mor ning of April 3rd, from an 
apoplectic fit with which he had been seized on the preceding 
evening. 

Mary Stawell , his only daughter and surviving child, was 
presumably bom not later than 1730, and was married, as 
already stated, on September 3rd, 1750, to Mr. Legge. Mr. 
Legge was a politician of eminence, and though for a short 
time Envoy Extraordinary at Berlin, seems to have returned to 
England in 1749. Mrs. Legge seems entirely to have abandoned 
Hinton Ampner, which remained in the charge of a. few ser- 
vants, Mr. Legge only coming there usually for one month in 
the shooting season, presumably September or October. Mr. 
and Mrs. Legge seem to have had only one child, Henry, ' 
2nd Lord Stawell, bom February 22nd, 1757. On May 20th, 
1760, Mrs. Legge was created Lady Stawell in her own right, 
with remainder to her male issue by Mr. Legge. In 1762 Mr. 
Legge was turned out of office (to use his own expression) and 
retired into private life. He died August 21st, 1764. After this 
his widow proceeded to try and let Hinton Ampner, arLd the 
phenomena mentioned in the pamphlet, which had, however, 
commenced very soon, as appears, after her father Lord Dart- 
mouth’s death, took place. On October nth, 1768, she became 

1 We have already stated that we do not believe this to have been 
the case. (Note by S.S.) 


260 



HINTON AMPNER 

the second wife of Wills Hillsborough, then Earl of Hills- 
borough, but created in 1789 (after her death) Marquess of 
Downshire. By him she had no issue. She was, as is recorded, 
fully cognizant of the phenomena and even made a sort of 
apparent attempt to have them investigated, with a view to 
show that they were caused by trickery. It seems also probable 
that it was by her orders that the house was pulled down. She 
died July 29th, 1780. 

Her son, Henry, succeeded her as second Lord Stawell of 
the new creation. He had married, in 1779, the year preceding 
her death, Mary Curzon, daughter of Assheton Curzon, first 
Viscount Curzon, by whom (who died in 1804) he had a 
daughter Mary, married, August nth, 1803, to John Dutton, 
second Lord Sherborne. Lord Stawell died without male 
issue in 1820, and the peerage thereupon expired. Lady Sher- 
borne died October 21st, 1864. The property of Hinton Amp- 
ner was apparently setded upon her second son and descended 
to his heirs. 

It would be interesting to know whether any abnormal 
phenomena are now or are recorded to have ever been ob- 
served on or about the site of the old house, whether occupied 
by the new house or not. 

The following is a chronological arrangement of the facts, 
as far as they relate to the phenomena or to the persons who 
were or may have been connected with them. 

1715. In or previous to this year Thomas P., coachman to 
Lord Stawell, entered the service of the family, since he had 
been more than forty years with them when Lord Stawell died 
in 1755, and he can hardly have been under 15 years of age at 
the time. Some time after this Sarah P., his wife, entered the 
service of the family, since she had been nearly forty years 
with them in 1755, and a similar assumption may be made as 
to her age. 

1719. May 10th. Marriage of Mary Stewkley to Edward 
Stawell. 

Same year. Death of her father. Sir Hugh Stewkley, aged 
about 80. 

1740. July. Death of Mrs. Stawell. Her sister Honoria goes 
on living with Mr. Stawell. 


261 



HINTON AMPNER 

1742. January 23rd. Mr. Stawell becomes Lord Stawell. 

1750. September 3rd. Marriage of his daughter, Mary 
Stawell, to Mr. Legge. 

1754. [November 25th.] Death of Honoria Stawell, aged 

[ 661 . 

1755. April 2nd. Lord Stawell seized with a fit, and dies the 
next morning, aged at least 65. It is remarkable that his cries 
to be bled were not complied with, as though those about him 
wished him to die. 

After this all the servants were dismissed, except the P.’s 
and Elizabeth B., and Richard T., the gardener, who lived out 
of the house. The house is only occupied by Mr. Legge for a 
month in the autumn, a time as to which we are not informed 
that any phenomena were ever observed, at least till the middle 
of November, which is rather past the shooting season. The 
phenomena were in fact specially observable about 2nd April 
(Lord Stawell’s anniversary), February, after Mrs. P.’s death, 
July, and at least in 1771, the beginning of August. It would 
appear from the Cheltenham case that such things have a 
tendency to recur at anniversaries; we do not know the day of 
the death of Isaac M., nor the date of any crime, if crime there 
were. It may however be remarked that July was the month of 
the death of Mrs. Stawell (Mary Stewkley), a woman who may 
have been deeply wronged by the rivalry of a younger sister. 

Before, however, the dismissal of the other servants, and 
therefore very soon after Lord Stawell’s death, the first 
phenomenon occurred. The groom Joseph saw in his room, 
by bright moonlight, a man in a drab coat, whom he evidently 
took to be ‘his old master’, i.e. Lord Stawell. It does not appear 
to have been very distinct, since the mark of identity he speci- 
fied was the way in which the hands were held; not much im- 
portance for such a purpose can generally be assigned to such 
a thing, since automatic tricks, such as movements of the hands, 
are particularly affected by heredity; but in this case none of 
Lord Stawell’s ancestors had ever inhabited the house. 

Among the dismissed servants was Isaac M., house steward. 
He is spoken of as dishonest. If such dishonesty were, as 
indicated, notorious, his impunity appears strange, and looks 
as if he had some hold over Lord Stawell. The time of his 

262 



HINTON AMPNER 

death is not mentioned, but it must have been before or not 
long after February, 1770, as his voice was heard and recog- 
nized by Robert Camis, who entered Mrs. Ricketts’s service 
at that time, and does not appear to have lived in the house 
long after she left in August, 1771. Camis’s latest information 
is in November of that year. Henceforward disturbances 
similar to those suffered by the Ricketts took place in the 
house. 

1760. May 20th. Mrs. Stawell was created Lady Stawell in 
her own right. 

1764. August 21 st. Mr. Stawell died. His widow, Lady 
Stawell, then tried to let the house. 

Same year. December. Thomas P. died, aged about 70, and 
was lying dead in the house when it was taken by the Ricketts 
family. 

1765. January. The Ricketts family entered into occupation, 
with an entirely new set of servants, all strangers from London, 
and Mrs. P. and Elizabeth B. left. Noises as of s lamming doors 
were continually heard, though no door was ever found open, 
and a new set of locks was fixed to them but without any 
result. Same year. July. The gentleman in drab, apparently 
the same seen by the groom Joseph about ten years before, and 
believed by him to be Lord Stawell, was seen towards evening. 
Same year. Autumn. The same figure was seen in the great 
hall, at night, by the groom George Turner. 

1767. July. A woman dressed in dark clothes which rustled 
as though of very stiff silk, was seen. 

Occasional noises were afterwards heard, including groans 
and rustling. 

1768. Lady Stawell (Mary Stawell, Mrs. Legge) married 
Lord Hillsborough. 

1769. End of the year. Mr. Ricketts went to Jamaica. 

Airs. Ricketts afterwards heard footsteps and the rustlin g of 
silk. 

1770. February. The servants John and Anne Sparks left, 
and Robert Camis and Elizabeth Godin came. Same year. 
S umme r. Mrs. Ricketts hears heavy men’s footsteps in her 
room. Same year. August. Lewis Chanson the Swiss left and 
Edward Russel came. Same year. November. Mrs. Ricketts 

263 



HINTON AMPNER 

chang ed her room, and in the new one heard music, once three 
heavy knocks, and afterwards, and in 

1771, the beginning of the year, a frequent sound like the 
murmuring wind throughout the house. Same year, February 
26th, Mrs. P., who had died a few days before, probably aged 
between 60 and 70, was buried at Hinton Ampner, and that 
night Elizabeth Godin, sleeping in the room which the 
deceased had formerly occupied, heard much groaning and 
fluttering. 

Same year. April 2nd. (Sixteenth anniversary of Lord Sta- 
well’s fetal seizure.) A variety of sounds, concluding with 
three heavy knocks, as before (two separate accounts). After 
this the noises continued. 

Same year. May 7th. Great accession of the disturbances 
henceforward. Same year, after Midsummer, the disturbances 
became much worse. A woman and two men now often heard 
talking. 

Mr. Jervis (afterwards Lord St. Vincent) came to stay with 
his sister. The day after he left, the peculiar crash was heard, 
followed by piercing shrieks, dying away as though sinking 
into the earth. The nurse, Hannah Streeter, expresses a wish 
to hear more, and thenceforth is troubled every night. Mr. 
Jervis returns, and with Captain Luttrell, and his own servant, 
sits up night after night, &c., hearing the divers sounds, &c. 

Mr. Jervis left before August 9th, and his sister and family 
very soon after. Mrs. Ricketts seems to have once returned, 
first to the Camis’s house, and then to the manor-house, but 
there heard a sound she had never heard before, which caused 
her indescribable terror, and which she does not describe. 
Same year. September. Lady Hillsborough sent her agent, Mr. 
Sainsbury, to sit up in the house. Whether he did so or not is 
not stated, and he can hardly have done so more than one 
night. 

A reward of £50, then £ 60 , and finally £100 was offered for 
detection, but with no result. 

1772. Some time within a year the house was let to a family 
named Lawrence, who endeavoured by threat ening the ser- 
vants, to stifle their statements. An apparition of a woman was 
said to have appeared once. 


264 



HINTON AMPNER 

1773. In a year the Lawrences left suddenly. 

The house was never again inhab ited and was pulled down. 

In the phenomena themselves there is not much that is very 
remarkable. They consist mainly of percussive and explosive 
sounds, and bear generally a very great resemblance to those 
which Fr. Hayden, S.J., heard at Ballechin, which he detailed 
to Mr. Huggins and myself, and of which I wrote an account 
to Mr. Myers. It will be observed that the intelligences 
seemed desirous to attract attention, as the phenomena became 
much more marked when watched for by Mr. Jervis, &c., and 
were very fully bestowed upon Hannah Streeter, when she had 
expressed a wish to hear them. They also became very marked 
after the death of Mrs. P., as though the spirits were dis- 
turbed by hers having joined them. 

There seems to be litde doubt, both from the dates, &c., and 
from the groom Joseph’s recognition, that the figure in drab 
was that of Lord Stawell. 

Isaac M., the dishonest house-steward, was also recognized 
by his voice by Robert Camis. 

Some of the phenomena which occurred in Mrs. P.’s room 
and elsewhere on the night of her funeral, and subsequently, 
may be attributed to her, but a phantom of another woman had 
been seen and heard for years before her death. This phantom 
appeared to be dressed in rich silk, and moved more quickly 
than a very old woman would naturally do. All the indications 
seem to point to Honoria Stawell, Lord Stawell’s sister-in- 
law, who had pre-deceased him, perhaps by only a few 
months. 

Lucy Camis, who certainly knew a great many more facts 
than we do, suggested that certain persons were suffering for 
their sins, and said that God knew whether ‘she’ had a child 
and killed it. No one is mentioned to whom the pronoun ‘she’ 
can refer except Honoria Stawell, and the imputation is that 
she had unlawful relations with her brother-in-law. Lord 
Stawell, and that a crime was co mmit ted in which the old 
housekeeper, Mrs. P., and the dishonest steward, Isaac M., 
were accomplices. 

It seems to be suggested that the skull which was found in a 
small box under the floor of the lobby when the house was 

265 



HINTON AMPNER 

pulled down, was the head of the child, and it is extremely 
suspicious that it was said to be a monkey’s (it being ab- 
solutely inexplicable that a monkey’s skull should be buried in 
a s mall box under the floor of a room), but that no inquiry 
was ever made, or the object shown to a medical man. 

It is consonant with this suspicion that the phenomena took 
place chiefly in and about the yellow room, where the crime 
may have been committed, and the lobby, under the floor of 
which the head was found, where an unhappy creature sank 
shrieking earthwards. 

In a letter to Mr. Myers, Lord Bute adds: 

November 26th, i8g2 

I think that you will observe that Mrs. Ricketts says in one 
place that she conversed much with Dame Camis, and that the 
latter gave her much information as to the Legges and Stawells; 
and, in another place that she (Mrs. Ricketts) could only ac- 
count for the phenomena upon the hypothesis of an undis- 
covered murder. My impression is that Dame Camis gave to 
Mrs. Ricketts and Mrs. Ricketts believed, the explanation 
which I have indicated, but that she felt her mouth shut by 
being practically unable to bring a terrible accusation against 
the memories of the father and aunt of the then still living Lady 
Hillsborough, who, as she warmly acknowledges, had always 
treated her with the utmost courtesy and consideration. This 
delicacy (which is only what one would expect from Mrs. 
Ricketts) also accounts for the reticence used about the narra- 
tive, only two copies being made. 

The theory suggested by Lord Bute as to the cause of the 
‘haunting’ seems to me incompletely established for the fol- 
lowing reasons: 

(1) The persons who were being discussed in the conversa- 
tion between Lucy Camis and Miss Jervis were the old house- 
keeper, Mrs. P., and Elizabeth Godin. There is no positive 
evidence that their remarks referred to a third person, Honoria 
Stawell. 

(2) The evidence that a crime was committed consists in the 
discovery of a small skull, said to be that of a monkey, but 
which may have been a child’s, and the feet that Honoria 

266 



HINTON AMPNER 

Stawell lived in Lord Stawell’s house during the lifetime of 
her sister and also after her death, at which time she was 52 
years of age. The fact of the ‘haunting’ does not add to this 
evidence. 

(3) The ‘haunting’ does not appear to have been definitely 
connected with any anniversary since it went on almost con- 
tinuously from April 2nd to the middle of August in one year, 
also in January, February, ‘s umm er*, July, ‘aut umn ’, Novem- 
ber and December of other years. April 3rd was, according to 
one authority, the date of Lord Stawell’s death, while the 
seizure which ended in his death was said to have taken place 
on April 2nd, but Collins’s Peerage gives the date of death as 
April 13th, and it does not seem that the phenomena were 
more pronounced on April 2nd than on many other days. 

(4) The only evidence for connecting the apparitions that 
were seen with the former inmates of the house is that, in one 
case out of the four, the apparition was said to have some 
resemblance to Lord Stawell. 

Editor of The Journal of 
The Society for Psychical Research 

With regard to the Hinton Ampner case it should be stated that, 
owing to present circumstances, I have not had the facilities I would 
have wished of identifying the persons concerned. Thus, I have been 
unable to find out for certain whether Mr. Bilson Legge did, or did 
not, become Earl of Dartmouth: The books of reference available to 
me are silent upon this point. Whether he did, or did not, succeed his 
brother is, however, of no great moment and does not affect the 
narrative. The old peerages are full of contradictions and, perhaps, 
we should assume that I am wrong and that the Marquess of Bute 
was right. The identification of the character in this story is quite a 
pursuit in itself and may recommend itself to persons with more time 
and a more precise interest in these genealogical questions. (Note 
byS.S.) 


5. STRANGE PHENOMENA IN A 
CALVADOS CASTLE 


From * Haunted Houses’ by Camille Flammarion, 
T. Fisher Unwin, London , 1924 


Here, as I have just said, we penetrate to the heart of our 
subject. The following account of the strange phenomena ob- 
served in 1875 in a Norman castle was drawn up by M. J. 
Morice, doctor of laws, on the report of the owner and wit- 
nesses, and was published in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques 
of 1893. ‘The honesty and intelligence of the owner of this 
castle’, so writes my learned friend Dr. Dariex, the editor of the 
Annales, ‘cannot be questioned by anyone. He is an energetic 
and intelligent man. He himself noted down every day all the 
extraordinary facts which he and the inha bitants of the castle 
witnessed, just as they occurred. These persons attested in 
turn the reality of the facts. But the owner has asked the 
narrator to see that no names are printed’ (We may regret this 
restriction.) Here follows the account, abridged where possible 
for the observations were numerous, and last a long time: 1 

About the year 1835 there existed in that parish an old 
castle belonging to the B. family. 

The place was in such a state of decay that a restoration was 
considered out of the question. It was replaced by another, 
built 150 yards to the north of the old castle. 

M. de X. inherited it in 1867, and took up his residence 
there. 

In the month of October of that year there was a series of 
extraordinary incidents, nocturnal noises and blows, which, 

1 See Annales des Sciences Psychiques, 1893, p. 65. 

268 





THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

after ceasing for some years, says M. de X. in his diary of 1875, 
commenced aftesh at that time. 

The Chateau du T. had always passed for a scene of fan- 
tastic phenomena, and the haunt of more or less evil ghosts. 
The X. family knew nothing of these noises when it took 
possession. 

Here are some extracts from the diary in question. These 
detailed relations are very long, but of intense interest. They 
form, indeed, a documentary proces-verbal. 

‘This is October, 1875 [writes the owner]. I propose to note 
down and record every day what happened during the night 
before. I must point out that when the noises occurred while 
the ground was covered with snow, there was no trace of foot- 
steps round the castle. I drew threads across all openings, 
secretly. They were never found broken. 

‘At present our household consists of the following: M. and 
Mme de X. and their son; the Abbe Y., tutor to the son; 
limile, coachman; Auguste, gardener; Amelina, housemaid; 
Celina, cook. All the domestics sleep in the house and are 
entirely trustworthy. 

* Wednesday , October 13, 1875 . — The Abbe Y. having told us 
that his armchair changed its place, my wife and I accom- 
panied him to his room, and we minutely observed the place 
of every object. We attached gummed paper to the foot of the 
armchair, and so fixed it to the floor. We left him then, asking 
him ,to call me should anything extraordinary happen. At a 
quarter to ten the Abbe heard on the wall of his room a series 
of slight raps, which, however, were loud enough to be also 
heard by Amelina, who slept in the opposite room. He then 
heard in a comer of the room as of the winding of a big dock. 
Then a candlestick on his mantelpiece was moved with a 
grating noise, and finally he heard and thought he saw his 
armchair move. As he durst not get up, he rang the bell, and I 
went up. On entering the room I found the armchair had 
moved over a yard and was turned towards the fireplace. An 
extinguisher placed on the base of the candlestick was put on 
the candle; the other candlestick had been moved into a posi- 
tion where it overhung the mantelpiece by about an inch. A 
statuette placed against the mirror had been advanced 8 inches. 

269 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 
I retired after twenty minutes. We heard two violent blows 
from the Abbe’s direction, who rang the bell, and assured me 
that the blows had been struck on the door of his wardrobe* 
at the foot of his bed.’ 

There is a promising beginning. But let us continue tie 
diary: 

* Thursday, October 14 . — Violent blows are heard. We arm 
ourselves, and go over the castle, but discover nothing. 

4 Friday , October 15 . — About 10 p.m. the Abbe and Amelina 
clearly heard steps imitating my wife’s and mine, as well as our 
conversation. It sounded to them as if we were going along the 
passage into our room. Amelina maintains that she recognized 
both our voices. Then she heard the opening of my wife’s 
door, but was not frightened because she thought it was our- 
selves. We were asleep and heard nothing. But at a quarter 
past eleven everybody was awakened by a series of very loud 
blows in the green room. Auguste and I made a general tour 
of inspection, and while in the drawing-room we heard blows 
near the linen-press. We went there, but found nothing, and 
came down. Madame and Amelina heard a piece of furniture 
being dragged on the floor above, where nobody was. It then 
seemed to fell heavily. 

4 Saturday, October 16 . — Everybody is awakened by a series 
of heavy blows, about half an hour after midnight. An armed 
tour of inspection yields no result. 

4 Monday , October 18 . — The number of witnesses is in- 
creased. The curate of the parish has kindly come to sleep in 
the castle since Saturday. He has heard the noises quite dearly, 
and will continue to pass the nights here. He will therefore be a 
witness of anything else which may be heard. To-night Marcel 
de X. will arrive. He will sleep on the second floor, and leave 
his door open so as to estimate the nature and direction of the 
noises. Auguste sleeps in the passage near his door. About 
eleven o’dock everybody was awakened by the noise of a large 
and heavy ball descending from the second floor to the first, 
and jumping from step to step. After half a minute there was a 
very loud single blow, and then nine or ten muffled ones. 

4 Tuesday , October 19 .— The parish priest of M. has come at 
our request to sleep here. He clearly heard a heavy tread 

270 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

slowly descending the stairs, and then, as the night before^ 
half a minute afterwards, a single heavy blow from about the 
middle of the staircase which leads down to the ground floor. 
He has no doubt this is supernatural. Marcel returns home 
with the same conviction.’ 

Why supernatural? Do we know all the forces of nature? 
But let us continue this fantastic story: 

‘The sounds ceased completely until Saturday, October 30, 
when everybody was awakened by a series of loud blows. 

‘Sunday, October 31 . — A very disturbed night. It sounded as 
if someone went up the stairs with superhuman speed from the 
ground floor, stamping his feet. Arrived on the landing, he 
gave five heavy blows, so strong that objects suspended on the 
wall rattled in their places. Then it seemed as if a heavy anvil 
or a big log had been thrown on to the wall, so as to shake the 
house. Nobody could say whence came these blows. Every- 
body got up and assembled in the passage of the first floor. 
We made a minu te inspection but found nothing. We went to 
bed, but more noises obliged us to get up again. We could only 
go to rest about three o’clock. 

* Wednesday , November 3 . — At 10.20 p.m. everybody was 
awakened by resounding steps, which quickly ascended the 
stairs. A series of blows shook the walls. We immediately got 
up. Shortly afterwards we heard the noise of a heavy elastic 
body rolling down the stairs from the second to the first floor, 
and bouncing from step to step. Arriving at the landing, it 
continued on its course along the passage and stopping at the 
balusters. Then came two loud thumps, followed by a formid- 
able blow as with a carpenter’s mallet swung at arm’s length 
upon the door of the green room. Then a series of tripping and 
repeated raps sounding like the steps of animals. 

‘Thursday, November 4 . — When we were going to bed 
Auguste asked me to come and hear a long series of taps he 
heard on the second floor, where he sleeps now. When I got 
there I heard nothing. I minutely inspected the granary and 
the red room, leaving the door of the latter open. Auguste and 
Armand, Amelina’s brother, were with me, and we ca rri ed a 
light. At the end of three minutes, five very distinct blows were 
heard in the red room, which nobody could enter without 

271 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

being seen or heard, nor, I must add, without coming within 
range of my revolver, which never leaves me, as everybody 
knows. Hardly had I gone downstairs when five more blows 
were heard, distinctly by Auguste, and feebly by me, as I was 
on the floor below. 

* Friday , November 5. — At 2 a.m. some being rushed at top 
speed up the stairs from the entrance hall to the first floor, 
along the passage, and up to the second floor, with a loud noise 
of tread which had nothing human about it. Everybody heard 
it. It was like two legs deprived of their feet and walking on 
the stumps. Then we heard numerous loud blows on the 
stairs and the door of the green room. 

‘ Wednesday , November jo. — At 1 a.m. there was a rushing 
gallop in the hall and on the stairs. A big blow was heard on 
the landing, followed by another violent one on the door of the 
green room. This took two minutes. A storm of wind, thunder, 
and lightning came and made the night hideous. At 1.20 the 
door of the green room was unlatched. Then there were two 
loud knocks on the door, three inside the room, three more on 
the door, and finally a prolonged rapping on the second floor, 
forty raps at least. This lasted i\ minutes. At that moment 
everybody heard something like a cry, or a long-drawn trumpet 
call, audible above the storm. It seemed to me to come from 
outside. A little while afterwards everybody heard a long 
shriek, and then another, as of a woman outside c alling for 
help. At 1.45 we suddenly heard three or four loud cries in the 
hall, and then on the staircase. We all got up and went round 
inspecting carefully. At 3.20 there was a galloping in the pas- 
sage. We heard two fainter cries, but these were in the house. 

‘ Friday , November 12 . — Several blows were heard, then 
shrill and loud cries as if there were several people. More 
plaintive cries in the hall. At 1 1 .45 these stifled cries seemed to 
come from the cellar, then other louder ones on the staircase. 
At midnight everybody got up, for cries were heard in the 
cellar, then inside the green room, and finally sobs and cries of 
a woman in horrible suffering. 

‘ Saturday , November 13 . — Not only are we troubled by 
night, but even to-day in the daytime: at 3 p.m. blows in the 
dining room; inspection without result. At 3.15, noises in the 

272 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

green room: we go there and find an easy-chair moved and 
placed against the door so as to prevent its opening. We put it 
back. At 3.40, steps in Madame’s room, and easy-chair was 
moved. We paid a second visit to the green room, and found the 
easy-chair placed against the door again. Madame and Amelina 
went with the Abbe to his room, and before their eyes the 
window of the cabinet, which was closed, opened. The wind 
was southerly and that window was to the north. In Madame’s 
room an easy-chair changed place again. In the Abbe’s room, 
the window, which was closed, was opened again. 

* Saturday , November 13, at night. — Galloping as on pre- 
ceding nights. Thirteen raps on the landing, eight violent ones 
on the door of the green room. The door opens and is banged 
violently. At 12.15 a.m., two loud cries on the landing. It is no 
longer the cry of a weeping woman, but shrill, furious, 
despairing cries, the cries “of demons or the damned”. For 
another hour violent blows are heard. 

* Sunday , November 14. — The Abbe’s windows, though well 
closed, were opened during Mass. He had locked his door and 
taken the key with him. Nobody could get into his room. 
During Vespers another of his windows opened. 

* Tuesday , November 23. — About two o’clock I was awakened 
from my profound sleep by knocks in the passage and other 
noises in my room, but the sudden and painful awakening did 
not allow me time to find out their true nature. Next morning 
the Abbe told us he had heard at the same hour, similar noises 
coming from the same direction. My wife, on getting up, 
found a general upset on her dressing-table. 

* Sunday , December 19. — During Vespers Fmile, who stayed 
in the house, heard the shovels and fire tongs in the kitchen 
fall on the floor. On returning from Vespers, Mme de 
heard walking up and down. It was the noise of heavy steps in 
the Abbe’s room, where there was nobody. 

* Monday , December 20. — At a quarter past twelve Mme de 
X. found on entering her room two chairs placed upside down 
on two armchairs. I went into the other rooms. In the blue 
room I found a chair placed on the side table. 

‘ Friday , December 24. — At midday, when all the domestic 
servants were at table, we found, in the Abbe’s room, the bed 

273 


s 


S.P. 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

turned on its side and the table pushed under it. In the even- 
ing, at six o’clock, we opened the door of the same room, 
which was locked, and found the table placed on the middle of 
the bed. 

‘Saturday, December 25. — At noon, when all the servants 
were at table, knocks were heard in the Abbe’s room, though 
his door was locked. We inspected it and found an armchair 
placed on Maurice’s desk. On returning from Vespers we 
found in the Abbe’s room the couch upside down, the alarum 
on the glass case of the clock, and a chair on the table. In the 
evening, at 9 p.m., we heard the broom moving about the 
passage of the second floor. On going up we found that it had 
changed its place. 

‘Sunday, December 26. — Coming home from High Mass, we 
went with the Abbe up to his locked room. The cushions of 
the couch had disappeared. We found them placed on end, 
one beside the other, on the outer window-sill of his toilet 
cabinet. Before I put in a second window I had stopped up 
this window by a piece of wood securely nailed to the inner 
frame. That piece of wood had been tom out without the trace 
of any tool and placed beside the cushions. The window was 
closed again. 

‘1 p.m.: Twice we heard knocks in the house. Mme de X. 
went on a round and found the Abbe’s room open, though he 
had locked it. A few minutes afterwards the drawing-room 
couch moved forward in two noisy rushes. Further noises 
upstairs, and another inspection. The Abbe’s door, which had 
been locked, had opened. 

*5 p.m.: After vespers we found a candlestick on the top of 
the Abbe’s lamp, and the water-bottle placed on the base of 
die glass, which had been reversed. In his cabinet two shoes 
had been disposed fanwise on the window and others on the 
plate by the nightlight. 

‘ Sunday , December 26 to Monday, December 27. — In the 
evening, at nine o’clock, I went with Auguste to stay in the 
linen-room, leaving the door open. We heard a series of knocks 
like those of a stick walking and knocking on the floor of the 
passage facing us. We had lighted a light. Shortly afterwards 
Amelina heard steps descending to the kitchen, and the noise 

274 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

of pieces of wood being broken, though none were in the 
kitchen. Nobody was visible. 

‘ Monday , December 27. — In the afternoon we all went to 

V . The cook, who remained alone with a daily help, told 

us that all was quiet. We went into the Abbe’s room, which had 
been locked, and found all his books, at least a hundred, 
strewn over the floor. Only three volumes remained up, each 
on its shelf. These were books of the Holy Scriptures. De- 
votional books had also been thrown on the floor from the 
mantelpiece, and the broom had been placed over them.’ 

This account is very lengthy, of course, but it is evidently 
very varied. I abridge it as much as is possible while preserving 
its intrinsic value. Here is the sequel: 

c Night of Tuesday, December 28, to Wednesday, December 
2g. — Three loud muffled blows on the second floor, followed 
immediately by numerous knocks along the second-floor pas- 
sage. Then three series of three knocks each delivered sharply 
on the Abbe’s door, then two isolated knocks followed by the 
noise of ironware. Two more sets of three knocks, sharp and 
impatient, and finally a big blow on the door of the green 
room. Total duration, three minutes. 

Wednesday, December 2g. — One of my music books is 
placed inside the piano. Mme de X., hearing a noise in the 
Abbe’s room, goes up there, followed by the latter. She heard 
a movement in the room, and put out her right hand to open 
die latch of the door. Before she could touch it she saw the key 
turn quickly in the lock and detach itself, hitting her left hand. 
The Abbe witnessed this. The blow was so strong that the 
place was sensitive and visible two days afterwards. In the 
evening we found in the blue room a coverlet thrown into the 
middle of the room and a night-table taken into the cabinet 
and resting on a pillow. The ewer had changed places with a 
crystal botde. 

‘ Night of Wednesday, December 2g, to Thursday, December 
30. — At 12.30 a.m. we were suddenly awakened by four 
thunderous blows on the door of Mme de X.’s room. To 
acquire some idea of their violence, one must imagine a wall 
collapsing, or a horse or four cannon-balls thrown against a 
door. It would be no exaggeration. The noise suddenly 

275 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 
changed over to the other end of the passage and a violent blow 
was heard on the door of the green room. Several loud muffled 
knocks were heard upstairs, which shook the house. They 
moved about, growing in loudness. 

*12.40 a.m. : Two noises of ironware at the end of the passage. 
A loud knock on the door of the green room. 

*12.50 a.m.: A prolonged walking with great strides on the 
second floor. A witness counted thirty-two paces. Forty blows 
on the Abbe’s door, five on the green room, ten on the flooring, 
two on the door, and five muffled blows which made the walls 
and furniture tremble on every floor. Total duration, four 
minutes. 

* Thursday, December 30 . — After lunch, when all the ser- 
vants were at table, we found in the Abbe’s room a footstool 
placed on my son’s desk and covered with an antimacassar. 
At 2 p.m. I went up with the Abbe to his room, and we found 
the armchair on the table. On its seat the antimacassar was 
spread out, and a lamp was placed on the antimacassar. A cross 
and some blest medals, which had been attached to the door, 
had disappeared. 

‘Night of Thursday, December 30 . — At 12.40 a.m. three 
blows were struck slowly on the door of the green room; eight 
muffled blows upstairs, shaking the house. Three noisy blows 
on the first-floor landing. Many steps were heard along the 
whole second-floor passage, sometimes quick, sometimes slow. 
These steps were quite unlike human steps. No animal could 
walk like that; it was more like a stick jumping on one of its 
ends. 

‘6 a.m.: More raps on the second floor, witnessed by the 
parish priest of Saint P , who slept here. Some things hap- 

pened in his room. He heard something like the noise of an 
animal with boards under its feet, coming to the room adjoin- 
ing his own, climbing on to the side table, crossing over to his 
pillow, entering his bed and stopping at the level of his left 
elbow. The priest had a light and was wide awake, but saw 
nothing. At 6 a.m., having gone into the green room, he heard 
something like the noise of rubbed straw, first on the couch, 
then in the window comer, on the curtain rod, and finally on 
the bed. The priest said there was no straw or any thing like it 

276 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

in the room. Martial, our farm-manager, slept with us that 
night. He was followed by noises heard under his feet in the 
gardener’s presence. 

‘New Year's Eve , 1876. — At 12.40 we were all awakened 
by a series of terrible blows on the door of the green room. 
After these came others inside the room, and then a single 
blow, followed by quick running along passages and stairs. 
Nine strong blows inside the green room. Prolonged rappings 
in the second-floor passage, and finally four muffled blows. 
Total duration, seven minutes. 

‘ Night of Saturday, January 1 , to Sunday, January 2. — At 
1.5 a.m. loud blows were struck on the door of the green room, 
and we all awoke. A stampede along the passage of the first 
floor and then of the second floor. Afterwards we heard 
thirteen irregular knocks in pairs, inside the green room. 
Then various steps co min g from above. A violent blow fell on 
the door of the green room, and three more inside. Eight 
muffled blows seemed to come from the second floor. The 
taper beside me shook at each blow. 

‘6.30 a.m.: Several blows in the passage resembling those of 
the night. It is notable that for the last three mornings those 
who come downstairs from their rooms are followed step by 
step down, to the ground floor by raps which stop and start 
with diem. The parish curate has been followed in this way, 
but saw nothing. 

‘Monday, January 3. — In the evening I was alone in the 
drawing-room about 5.15 p.m. I had a light and heard six 
well-marked raps on the small table standing two yards away 
from me. I turned round but saw nothing. 

‘Night of Monday, January 3, to Tuesday, January 4. — At 
3 a.m. a dozen blows were struck in pairs on the door of Mme 
de X.’s room. The nearest window shook at every blow. There 
was a light in the room. We were wide awake and quite cool, 
but saw nothing. Five minu tes afterwards we heard a stampede, 
something like a stick jumping on one of its ends, in the first- 
floor and then in the second-floor passage; then some dull and 
feeble knocks. Dr. L., who has slept here, heard the noise of 
the running in the passage, but nothing else. The parish priest 

of La B slept in the red room, and heard during the 

277 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 
greater part of the night a series of feeble but very extra- 
ordinary noises in his passage. He did not venture to go to bed. 
He is convinced that this can only be supernatural. 

‘Wednesday, January 5. — The Rev. Fr. H. L., a Premon- 
strant Canon, has been sent here by the Bishop to judge the 
facts and help us. About 5 p.m., a few moments before his 
arrival, Mme de X. heard in the drawing-room with her son 
the sound of the door shaken violently and saw the handle turn 
quickly. Maurice was frightened, and Mme de X. begun to 
sing loudly to prevent him hearing it. 

* Presence of the Rev. Fr. H. L. — From the moment the Rev. 
Father arrived a sudden and absolute calm set in. Nothing 
happened either by day or by night. On January 15 he made a 
religious ceremony. From that day we heard some isolated and 
unusual noises in the night, but always from places too far 
away from Fr. H. L. for him to hear. He left us on Monday, 
the 17th, and his departure was immediately followed by a 
new set of phenomena as intense and serious as those which 
preceded his coming. 

‘Night of January 17 to 18. — At 11 p.m. there was a noise as 
of a body felling in the first-floor passage, followed by that of a 
rolling ball giving a violent blow on the door of the green room. 
Prolonged stampede on the second floor, followed by twenty 
dull knocks in the same place and eighteen inside the green 
room. At 11.35 P- m - there were five great blows on the door 
of the green room, and fifteen dull ones on the second-floor 
staircase, two kicks on the landing, and ten dull knocks 
on the second-floor staircase, making everything round us 
shake. 

‘Night of January iq to 20. — At 11.15 p.m. we were wakened 
by a stampede upstairs, followed, by fifteen violent blows on 
the door of the green room and fifty-five more inside. Shortly 
afterwards five blows as with a carpenter’s mallet on the first- 
floor stairs. Prolonged stampede. Five dull blows, dr umming 
inside the green room, three blows on the door of the room, 
twenty-seven on the window of my room, the last two of 
which made the windows of Mme de X. shake. Duration, ten 
minutes. 

‘At 1.45 a.m. eleven blows in my room.’ 

278 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

M. de X., having left for a few days on a visit to his brother, 
requested his wife to take notes in his absence. Here are these 
notes: 

‘Night of January 20 to 21. — 1.8 a.m.: Five ordinary raps, 
followed by nineteen blows in the passage; two on the door of 
the linen-room, followed by six more; nine on the door of the 
green room, and eleven on the second floor, followed by a 
number of rhythmic raps on the second floor. Duration, seven 
minutes. Twelve dull knocks on the second floor, and eight 
raps seeming to pass from door to door. 

‘1.25 a.m. : Everybody hears four loud cries like bellowings, 
outside but at the level of the window, then something like 
strokes with a wand on the stairs. Shortly afterwards ten 
stronger blows, followed by dr umming on the second floor. 

‘1.30 a.m.: Two heavy blows on the second floor, shaking 
mirrors and other objects in the rooms. 

‘2.5 a.m.: Numerous raps on the stairs, one on the door of 
the linen-room, several on the door of the green room, one of 
them a resounding one; five strong dull blows on the second 
floor, which shake all the furniture. Five feebler blows on the 
stairs, four on the second floor. Bellowing in the north, outside 
the house at the level of the first-floor windows. 

‘5.45 a.m.: A blow sounds in the passage. Running is heard, 
then the door of the green room opens and shuts violently. It 
is locked and the handle is tom off. Finally a sort of ball seems 
to roll along the same passage and to deliver a blow near the top 
of the stairs. The same night Mme de X. heard a voluminous 
body falling heavily from her table to the ground. She looked, 
but could see nothing. 

‘Night of January 21 to 22. — At 3 a.m. we are awakened by 
fifteen knocks on the second floor. 

‘Night of January 22 to 23. — At 3 a.m. we are awakened by a 
set of twenty dull blows on the second floor.’ 

The following notes are by M. de X. : 

‘Night of January 23 to 24. — At 9 p.m. a stampede was heard 
in our passage followed by a series of feebler raps. The night 
was calm. This morning at 6 a.m. and then at 7 a.m. we heard 

a series of raps also in our passage. To-day I leave for P . 

My wife will note what takes place in my absence. 

279 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

* January 25 . — At 4.30 p.m. much noise upstairs. Madame 
goes up with Amelina and finds the beds of Auguste and 
Smile turned over, and, strangely enough, in an absolutely 
identical manner. After observing this disorder, Madame goes 
to the red room; the door resists, being obstructed by a heavy 
arm cha ir. She puts it back and continues her inspection. As 
she goes to my study a frame placed inside against the door 
falls against her legs, and she finds everyt h ing in disorder — 
prints thrown on the ground, the armchair upside down and 
heaped with papers, maps, etc. 

‘5.X0 p.m.: The Abbe was reading his breviary. Although for 
three days there had been beautiful weather, a mass of water 
fell through the chimney on to the fire, extinguishing it and 
scattering the ashes. The Abbe was blinded and had his face 
covered with ashes. 

‘Night of January 2 5 to 26 . — At 12.20 a.m. two blows in the 
hall. At 1 a an. twelve blows, followed by long drumming, then 
thirty rapid blows of a peculiar character, or, rather, a shaking 
of the whole house. Beds all over the house shaken. After- 
wards nine blows in succession, five on the door of the green 
room, then a long stampede. The total duration was only five 
minutes. A minute afterwards the entire house was shaken 
from top to bottom. Then there were ten terrible blows on the 
door of the green room, a dozen cries outside, three bellow- 
ings, then furious shouts. A very loud drumming in the hall, 
apparently in rhythm. Fifty blows quite close to my room. 
Several knocks at the door of my son Maurice. 

‘1.30 am. : The house was shaken twenty times, seven blows 
on the door of the green room, followed by blows so rapid that 
they could not be counted; two on die door of the green room, 
twelve near Maurice’s room, thirteen which made everything 
tremble, then in succession five, ten, and eighteen blows, 
shaking walls and furniture. There was hardly time to note 
them down. Nine terrible blows on the door of the green room, 
a drumming interspersed with loud blows, seven which shake 
everything, one very resounding, then a series of ten blows in 
pairs. At this moment a sound was heard like a bull ro aring ., 
then other inhuman furious cries in the passage near my wife’s 
room, who got up and rang to waken all the servants. When 

280 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

everybody was up and assembled in the Abbe’s room, we heard 
two bellowings and a shout. 

‘At 4.20 everybody went back to bed. Mme de X. heard a 
rather loud blow on the organ in her room, two yards from her 
bed. It was followed by three more blows whose direction she 
could not make out. The noises were heard clearly on the 
farm. 

‘ Night of January 26 to 27 . — Two further witnesses: the 

parish priest of Saint M came to pass the night, and Mile 

de L. came for several days. 

‘At 12.15 a - m - everybody was awakened by a very violent 
noise such as would be caused by a board falling on the floor of 
the first-floor passage. It was followed by a cry. At 12.45, a 
stampede and heavy blows. After a short pause they began 
again and seemed accompanied by the shifting of heavy boxes. 
Maurice’s door was shaken. Finally there were four blows on 
the door of the green room. 

‘Night of January 28 to 2g . — At 11.15 p.m., a piercing cry on 
the stairs, raucous and sharp. Seven blows in the green room; 
six very loud ones on the door of the room. 

‘At 11.45, nineteen very dull blows on one of the doors in the 
passage. 

‘At 12.55 a.m. we heard something like the voice of a man in 
the first-floor passage. It seemed to cry twice Ha! Ha! Im- 
mediately there were ten resounding blows, shaking every- 
thing all round. One blow on the door of the green room. Then 
the sound of coughing in the first-floor passage. We rose 
quickly, saw nothing, and found at my wife’s door a large 
earthenware plate broken into ten pieces. 

‘We have had a Novena of Masses said at Lourdes. The 
Reverend Father has made the exorcisms and everything has 
stopped.’ 

I must admit that every worldly reader who has never heard 
of the phenomena of haunting might attribute the preceding 
descriptions to the brains of lunatics or persons under hallu- 
cination. Yet these facts are true. The idea of the supernatural 
is evidently dominant in this family and their surro unding s. 
We have to appreciate these things in a purely scientific man- 
ner. Out of the numerous attestations collected by Dr. Dariex 

281 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 
I shall quote some documents as complementary declarations, 
which will replace details suppressed in the preceding descrip- 
tions to avoid undue prolixity. 

A LETTER FROM THE ABb£ D., LATE TUTOR OF THE 
SON OF MADAME DE X., AND NOW PARISH PRIEST 
IN NORMANDY, TO M. MORJCE 

I have been a witness of all the things which happened at the 

Castle of T from October 12, 1875, to January 30, 1876. 

I can testify that the things related in the preceding MS. can- 
not be the work of a man. All these noises were not only heard 
by one person but by a large number of witnesses, and the 
blows were so loud that they could be heard at a distance of 
500 yards. I shall not give a new account of the facts, because 
you know them. Occurrences of this nature also took place in 
the older castle. During all these troubles M. de X. took every 
imaginable precaution. How could a man have got into my 
room and changed the places of all the objects without my 
seeing him? How could he have got on the chimney-piece and 
poured water on my fire so as to cover me with ashes? And 
this in the daytime, and at a time of drought? My pupil was a 
witness of the occurrence, and I can still see him running. 
How was it that M. de X.’s dog, a well-trained animal, showed 
no astonishment amidst the greatest noises? How explain the 
opening of a well-dosed window before our eyes? The cries 
we heard were not the cries of human beings. Often the walls 
of the castle were so much shaken that I was afraid of the 
ceiling falling on my head. Where could we find a man who 
could do all that? I, for one, can only think of the Devil. 

M— ,, 

January 12, 1893 

LETTER FROM M. MORICE TO M. DARIEX 

Dear Doctor, 

M. de X. as we see by the last sentence of his MS., attributed 
the cessation of the phenomena to the ceremony of exordsm 
and to the prayers he had said after the ceremony. When he 

282 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 
wrote it — i.e., on January 29 — M. de X. certainly had some 
reason; but circumstances soon disillusioned him. 

By itself, the ceremony of exorcism yielded no result at all. 
It was performed on January 14 or 15, and we know by the 
account given by M. de X. himself what happened from that 
date until January 29. We must admit that after the prayers 
prescribed by the exorcizing priest peace seemed to return at 
the end of January. But at the end of August and especially in 

September the castle of T again became the scene of 

events as strange as those which we know already. 

I have applied to one of the witnesses who spent the whole 

year 1876 at the castle of T as tutor to M. de X.’s son, 

and this is his answer: 

Letters from the Abbe M. to M. G. Morice 

B , 

c g„ January 20, 1893 

‘After the exorcisms a great calm set in. One almost in- 
credible thing took place, which gave us much hope for the 
future. Here it is: You have seen from the diary that medals of 
St. Benoit; indulgence crosses, and Lourdes medals had been 
placed on all the doors. These medals and crosses amounted 
to a good-sized package. You have also seen that on the follow- 
ing night a tremendous noise occurred and that next day 
medals and crosses had disappeared so that nothing could be 
found, though they and the doors were very numerous. Now 
the exorcisms had ceased and were succeeded by several days 
of peace. You may imagine how agreeable these days were. 
But two or three days afterwards Madame was writing some 
lines on her knees by a little desk when suddenly an immense 
packet of medals and crosses fell in front of her on the desk. It 
might have been about 10.30 a.m. Whence came these medals? 
They were all the medals placed on the doors except those of 
Lourdes. 

‘The good priest of T ■, to whom the story was told, and 

who, like myself, knew the sincerity and honesty of the castle 
people and wished to keep them in his parish, said to them: 
“Have courage; the Devil surrenders his arms; everything is 

283 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

finished I may assure you. You will be left in peace.” But to 
me the good man said: “I am still afraid, much afraid, because 
Lourdes has not come back.” 

‘Towards the end of August the small noises came back 
more frequently and clearly. One night several persons, in- 
cluding myself, heard quick and fairly loud knocks in the 
linen-room. They were just like those produced the previous 
year when the phenomena commenced. 

‘One Saturday night before the third Sunday in September 
a great noise occurred in the drawing-room and continued for a • 
part of the night. In the morning, M. de X., who had the key of 
the drawing-room in his pocket, went down in some anxiety. 
He opened the door and found the couch and armchairs moved 
far from their places. All was arranged as for a council meet- 
ing, horseshoe-fashion, with the couch in the centre. 

*Well, the Devil had held council and was about to begin 
again. M. de X. opened his harmonium and played for a long 
time. As he closed the instrument, some of the airs he had been 
playing were repeated in the opposite comer of the drawing- 
room for a considerable time. 

‘Some days afterwards M. de X. was away for three days. 
During that time Madame kept a lamp and two candles alight 
in her room. As she was particularly afraid of ghosts, she bolted 
the door of her toilet cabinet and said to herself, “Now I shall 
only have the entrance door to keep in view.” At midnight we 
all heard a terrible blow, which awakened us, and Madame 
heard something like the noise of a package of linen which had 
fallen into her room. At that moment the lamp and candle- 
went out and Madame heard the click of the bolt being with- 
drawn. And it had been drawn. 

‘The nest day Madame heard a note of a small organ in her 
room sound for some time. The next day after that I heard 
about 2.30 p.m. the same organ playing several airs. Madame 
and a lady friend were away. I expected M. de X. back, but he 
only came in at 6 p.m. I told him what had happened, and he 
said: “I have the key of the organ in my pocket,” It was true, 
and the organ had been locked. 

‘Another time, in my own room, a cupboard heavily laden 
with books and linen rose 20 inches from the ground and 

284 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 
remained up for some time. My young pupil pointed it out to 
me. I pressed on the cupboard, but it did not yield. It resumed 
its place of itself afterwards. It may have been 3 o’clock in the 
afternoon. 

‘One evening the windows of my room opened several times. 
There was no wind. 

(Sg.)X 

( Parish Priest of B ■)’ 

There is only one thing to be added, viz., that the writers of 
the above letters are priests whose perfect good faith cannot 
be doubted for a moment. 

(Sg.) G. Morice 

Here, to clinch the matter, is an extract from a letter of Mme 
Le N. de V. to Dr. Dariex: 

‘The Castle came into the possession of M. de X., I believe, 
by inheritance. The former owner is said to have died in final 
impenitence^ and was supposed to revisit her castle. 

‘When the first noises occurred, M. de X. thought he had to 
do with living people wishing to frighten him sufficiently to 
make him abandon the castle, which would in such circum- 
stances have been sold for a song with its surrounding land. 
He therefore instituted a close examination and sounded the 
walls and cellars to find the forgotten passages by which one 
could enter. In spite of the most careful vigilance no origin of 
these noises could be found, and they increased in spite of all 
precautions. 

‘He bought two formidable watch dogs, which were 
released every night, but to no purpose. 

‘One day the animals started barking in the direction of one 
of the thickets of the garden with such persistence that M. de 
X. thought the miscreants had hidden themselves there. He 
armed himself and his servants, surrounded the thicket and 
released the dogs. They rushed in with fury, but hardly had 
they got in when their barks changed into plaintive whines, 
like those of dogs being chastised. They ran away with their 
tails between their legs and could not be prevailed upon to go 
back. The men then went in and searched in every direction, 
but found absolutely nothing. 

285 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

‘The Abbe’s room was always the place where the greatest 
devilries took place. He never went out without double^ 
locking it and putting the key in his pocket. It made no differ- 
ence. His window, carefully closed, was found open. His fur- 
niture had been moved and upset. The window was screwed 
up. It was opened all the same, and the screws were found on 
the floor. One day, as the Abbe descended, he heard in his 
room a noise so loud that he immediately went up again. His 
library was upset and his books thrown to the other end of the 
room, not pell-mell as out of a piece of furniture which fell, 
but in regular files, just as they had been on the shelves. 

‘The state of fear became so great that the Abbe and his pupil 
went to stay with the parish priest. 

‘Another thing: A friend or cousin, an officer, wanted to 
spend a night in the particularly haunted room where nobody 
slept as a rule. He had his revolver and was determined to 
shoot at anyone who would disturb his sleep. He kept a light 
burning. He was awakened by tine frou-frou of a silken robe. 
He felt that that coverlet over his feet was drawn away. He 
addressed the nocturnal visitor without eliciting a reply and 
lighted his candle, which went out again at once. Three times 
he lighted it, and three times it went out. And still the frou- 
frou and the interference with the coverlet continued. He 
decided to shoot at the point indicated by the displacement of 
the bedclothes as the probable position of the intruder and 
thought to hit that being point blank. He fired without any 
result. Yet the balls had not been withdrawn from the cart- 
ridges, for they were found in the wall next morning.’ 

Here is another supplementary letter: 

LETTER FROM FR. J., PARISH PRIEST, TO M. MORICE 
Monsieur le Docteur, 

I can testify that I heard the strange noises reported in the 
diary of M. de X. I have read that diary and find it perfecdy 
accurate. 

I have no doubt concerning die nature of the occurrences at 

the casde of T . To me they are diabolically supernatural. 

You might consult Rev. Fr. H., who is acting as parish priest 

286 



THE HAUNTED CASTLE IN CALVADOS 

of M . He passed a fortnight or three weeks at the castle. 

He had been sent by the Bishop to make the (secret) exorcisms 
if he judged it appropriate. 

(Sg.) J. A. 

Parish Priest of S D 

The letter of the Reverend Father has also been published. 
But, indeed, any further documents would be superfluous. 
The reality of these amazing phenomena is beyond doubt. 

As a consequence of this intolerable state of things, the 
despairing owner sold the castle, and went to live elsewhere. 

Dr. Dariex terminates this important account of the incom- 
prehensible occurrences in the following lines: 

‘I have recently had a visit from Prince H., who will try, 
with M. Morice, to extend, if possible, this enquiry already so 
rich in documents and testimony from witnesses of undoubted 
honesty and credibility. 

‘The castle of T is by far the most remarkable case of 

haunting we have come across which rests upon such rigorous 
documents and testimony. 

‘We can cast no doubt upon these numerous observations. 
They are very remarkable in many ways, and the good faith of 
those who report the phenomena is undoubted. 

(Sg.) Xavier Dariex’ 

This whole story is most extraordinary, no doubt. But its 
authenticity is as certain as that of the German war of 1914- 
1918, which, with its terrible crimes, was still more mad and 
stupid. It is one of the best-established cases within our 
knowledge, and on that account it is here given with its princi- 
pal details, and not s umm arized. I shall not stop to consider 
the matter of the ‘diabolically supernatural’. That discussion 
must be reserved. Let us continue our investigations without 
any preconceived ideas. Explanatory researches can only come 
logically when we have all the observations before us. 

Yet it seems to me that we cannot but feel authorized to 
conclude from all this that there are invisible beings. 


287 



6. THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 


Reprinted from * The Night-Side of Nature’ , by 
Mrs. Catherine Crowe, 1849 


^With regard to some so-called hauntings, there seems reason 
to believe that the invisible guest was formerly a dweller 
upon earth, in the flesh, who is prevented by some circum- 
stance which we are not qualified to explain, from pursuing 
the destiny of the human race, by entering freely into the 
next state prepared for him. He is like an unfortunate cater- 
pillar that cannot entirely free itself from the integuments 
of its reptile life which chain it to the earth, whilst its 
fluttering wings vainly seek to bear it into the region to 
which it now belongs. But there is another kind of haunting, 
which is still more mysterious and strange, though by 
no means infrequent, and which, from the odd, sportive, 
mischievous nature of the disturbances created, one can 
scarcely reconcile to our notions of what we understand by the 
term ghost. For in those cases where the unseen visitant appears 
to be the spirit of a person deceased, we see evidences of grief, 
remorse and dissatisfaction, together with, in many instances, 
a disposition to repeat the acts of life, or at least to stimulate a 
repetition of them: but they are seldom sportive or mischiev- 
ous, nor, except where an injunction is disobeyed, or a request 
refused, are there generally any evidences of anger or malig- 
nity. But in the other cases alluded to, the annoyances appear 
rather like the tricks of a mischievous imp. I refer to what the 
Germans call the Poltergeist, or racketing spectre, for the 
phenomenon is known in all countries, and has been known in 
all ages. 


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THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

Since hearing the phenomenon of the electric girl, which 
attracted so much attention and occasioned so much contro- 
versy in Paris lately, and other similar cases, which have since 
reached me, I feel doubtful whether some of these strange 
circumstances may not have been connected with electricity in 
one form or another. The famous story of what is familiarly 
called the Stockwell Ghost, for example, mi ght possibly be 
brought under this category. I have heard some people assert 
that the mystery of this affair was subsequently explained away, 
and the whole found to be a trick. But that is a mistake. Some 
years ago I was acquainted with persons whose parents were 
living on the spot at the time, who knew all the details, and to 
them it remained just as great a mystery as ever. Not the 
smallest light had ever been thrown upon it. People are so glad 
to get rid of troublesome mysteries of this description, that 
they are always ready to say, ‘The trick has been found out!’ 
and those who pride themselves on not believing idle stories, 
are to the last degree credulous when ‘the idle story’ flatters 
their scepticism. 

The circumstances of the so-called Stockwell Ghost, which 
I extract from a report published at the time, are as follows: 

The pamphlet was entitled: 

‘An Authentic Candid and Circumstantial Narrative, of the 
astonishing Transactions at Stockwell, in the County of Surrey, 
on Monday and Tuesday, the 6th and 7th days of January, 
1772, containing a Series of the most surprising and unac- 
countable Events that ever happened, which continued from 
first to last, upwards of Twenty Hours, and at different places. 

‘Published with the consent and approbation of the family 
and other parties concerned, to authenticate which, the original 
copy is signed by them. 

‘Before we enter upon a description of the most extraordi- 
nary transactions that perhaps ever happened, we shall begin 
with an account of the parties who were principally con- 
cerned, and, in justice to them, give their characters, by which 
means the impartial world may see what credit is due to the 
following narrative. 

,‘The events indeed are of so strange and singular a nature, 
that we cannot be at all surprised the public should be doubtful 

T 289 S.P» 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
of the truth of them, more especially as there have been too 
many impositions of this sort; but, let us consider, here are no 
sinister ends to be answered, no contributions to be wished 
for, nor would be accepted, as the parties are in reputable situa- 
tions and good circumstances, particularly Mrs. Golding, who 
is a lady of an independent fortune. Richard Fowler and his 
wife mi ght be looked upon as an exception to this assertion; 
but as their loss was trivial, they must be left out of the ques- 
tion, except so far as they appear corroborating evidences. 

‘Mr. Pain’s maid lost nothing. 

‘How or by what means these transactions were brought 
about has never transpired; we have only to rest our confidence 
on the veracity of the parties, whose descriptions have beat 
most stricdy attended to, without the least deviation: nothing 
here offered is either exaggerated or diminished; the whole 
stated in the clearest manner just as they occurred: as such only 
we lay them before the candid and impartial public. 

‘Mrs. Golding, an elderly lady at Stockwell, in Surrey, at 
whose house the transactions began, was bom in the same 
parish (Lambeth), has lived in it ever since, and has always 
been well known and respected as a gentlewoman of unblem- 
ished honour and character. Mrs. Pain, a niece of Mrs. Gold- 
ing, has been married several years to Mr. Pain, a farmer, at 
Brixton Causeway, a little above Mr. Angel’s, has several 
children, and is well known and respected in the parish. Mary 
Martin, Mr. Pain’s servant, an elderly woman, has lived two’ 
years with them, and four years with Mrs. Golding, where she 
came from. Richard Fowler lives almost opposite to Mr. Pain, 
at the Brick Pound, an honest, industrious and sober man. And 
Sarah Fowler, wife to the above, is an industrious and sober 
woman. 

‘These are the subscribing evidences that we must rest the 
truth of the facts upon; yet there are numbers of other persons 
who were eye-witnesses of many of the transactions during the 
time they happened, all of whom must acknowledge the truth 
of them. 

‘Another person who bore a principal part in these scenes 
was Ann Robinson, Mrs. Golding’s maid, a young woman, 
about twenty years old, who had lived with her but one week 

290 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

and three days. So much for the histories personae 5 and now 
for the narrative. 

‘On Monday, January 6th, 1772, about ten o’clock in the 
forenoon, as Airs. Golding was in her parlour, she heard the 
china and glasses in the back kitchen tumble down and break; 
her maid came to her and told her the stone plates were falling 
from the shelf; Airs. Golding went into the kitchen and saw 
them broke. Presently after a row of plates from the next shelf 
fell down likewise, whilst she was there, and nobody near 
them; this astonished her much, and while she was thinking 
about it, other things in different places began to tumble about, 
some of them breaking, attended with violent noises all over 
the house; a clock tumbled down and the case broke; a lantern 
that hung on the stair-case was thrown down, and the glass 
broke to pieces; an earthen pan of salted beef broke to pieces, 
and the beef fell about; all this increased her surprise, and 
brought several persons about her, among whom was Air. 
Rowlidge, a carpenter, who gave it as his opinion that the 
foundation was giving way, and that the house was tumbling 
down, occasioned by the too great weight of an additional 
room erected above; so ready are we to discover natural causes 
for everything! But no such thing happened, as the reader will 
find, for whatever was the cause, that cause ceased almost as 
soon as Airs. Golding and her maid left any place, and fol- 
lowed them wherever they went. Airs. Golding ran into Air. 
Gresham’s house, a gentleman living next door to her, where 
she fainted. 

‘In the interim. Air. Rowlidge and other persons were re- 
moving Airs. Golding’s effects from her house, for fear of the 
consequences he had prognosticated. At this time all was 
quiet; Airs. Golding’s maid remaining in her house, was gone 
up stairs, and when called upon several times to come down, 
for fear of the dangerous situation she was thought to be in, she 
answered very coolly, and after some time came down as de- 
liberately, without any seeming fearful apprehensions. 

‘Airs. Pain was sent for from Brixton Causeway, and desired 
to come directly, as her aunt was supposed to be dead: this was 
the message to her. When Airs. Pain came, Airs. Golding was 
come to herself, but very faint. 

291 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

‘Among the persons who were present was Mr. Gardner, a 
surgeon, of Clapham; whom Mrs. Pain desired to bleed her 
aunt, which he did; Mrs. Pain asked him if the blood should be 
thrown away; he desired it might not, as he would examine it 
when cold. These minute particulars would not be taken 
notice of, but as a chain to what follows. For the next circum- 
stance is of a more astonis hing nature than anything that had 
preceded it; the blood that was just congealed, sprang out of 
the basin upon the floor, and presently after the basin broke to 
pieces: this china basin was the only thing broken belong- 
ing to Mr. Gresham: a bottle of rum that stood by it broke 
at the same time. 

‘Amongst the things that were removed to Mr. Gresham’s 
was a tray full of china, etc., a japan bread basket, some 
mahogany waiters, with some bottles of liquors, jars of 
pickles, etc., and a pier glass, which was taken down by Mr. 
Saville (a neighbour of Mrs. Goldings); he gave it to one 
Robert Hames, who laid it on the grass-plot at Mr. Gresham’s: 
but before he could put it out of his hands, some parts of the 
frame on each side flew off; it rained at that time. Airs. Golding 
desired it might be brought into the parlour, where it was put 
under a sideboard, and a dressing-glass along with it; it had 
not been there long before the glasses and china which stood 
on the side-board began to tumble about and fell down, and 
broke both the glasses to pieces. Mr. Saville and others being 
asked to drink a glass of wine or ram, both the bottles broke in 
pieces before they were uncorked. 

‘Mrs. Golding’s surprise and fear increasing, she did not 
know what to do, or where to go; wherever she and her maid 
were, these strange destructive circumstances followed her, 
and how to help or free herself from them, was not in her 
power or any other person’s present: her mind was one con- 
fused chaos, lost to herself and everything about her, drove 
from her own home, and afraid there would be none other to 
receive her: at last she left Air. Gresham’s, and went to Air. 
Alayling’s, a gentleman at the next door; here she stayed about 
three-quarters of an hour, during which time nothing hap- 
pened. Her maid stayed at Air. Gresham’s to put up what few 
things remained unbroken of her mistress’s, in a back apart- 

292 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
ment, when a jar of pickles that stood upon a table turned up- 
side down, then a jar of raspberry jam broke to pieces, next two 
mahogany waiters and a quadrille-box likewise broke to 
pieces. 

‘Mrs. Pain, not choosing her aunt should stay too long at 
Mr. Mayling’s, for fear of being troublesome, persuaded her 
to go to her house at Rush Common, next Brixton Causeway, 
where she would endeavour to make her as happy as she could, 
hoping by this time all was over, as nothing had happened at 
that gentleman’s house, while she was there. This was about 
two o’clock in the afternoon. 

‘Mr. and Miss Gresham were at Mr. Pain’s house when 
Mrs. Pain, Mrs. Golding and her maid went there. It being 
about dinner time, they all dined together; in the interim, Mrs. 
Golding’s servant was sent to her house to see how thin g s re- 
mained. When she returned, she told them no thing had hap- 
pened since they left it. Some time after, Mr. Gresham and 
Miss Gresham went home, everything remaining quiet at Mr. 
Pain’s; but about eight o’clock in the evening a fresh scene 
began; the first thing that happened, was a whole row of pew- 
ter dishes, except one, fell from off a shelf to the middle of the 
floor, rolled about a little while, then settled; and, what is al- 
most beyond belief, as soon as they were quiet, turned upside 
down; they were then put on the dresser, and went through 
the same a second time; next fell a whole row of pewter plates 
from off the second shelf over the dresser to the ground, and 
being taken up and put on the dresser one in another, they 
were thrown down again. 

‘The next thing was two eggs that were upon one of the 
pewter shelves; one of them flew off, crossed the kitchen, struck 
a cat on the head, and then broke in pieces. 

‘Next, Mary Martin, Mrs. Pain’s servant, went to stir the 
kitchen fire; she got to the right-hand side of it, being a large 
chimney, as is usual in farm houses; a pestle and mortar, that 
stood nearer the left-hand end of the chimney shelf, jumped 
about six feet on the floor. Then went candlesticks and other 
brasses, scarce any thing remaining in its place. After this, the 
glasses and china were put down on the floor for fear of under- 
going the same fate; they presently began to dance and tumble 

293 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
about, and then broke to pieces. A teapot, that was among 
them, flew to Mrs. Golding’s maid’s foot, and struck it. 

‘A glass tumbler that was put on the floor, jumped about 
two feet and then broke. Another that stood by it jumped about 
at the same time, but did not break till some hours after, when 
it jumped again, and then broke. A china bowl that stood in 
the parlour jumped from the floor to behind a table that stood 
there. This was most astonishing, as the distance from where 
it stood was between seven and eight feet, but was not broke. 
It was put back by Richard Fowler to its place, where it re- 
mained some time, and then flew to pieces. 

‘The next thing that followed was a mustard pot, that 
jumped out of a closet and was broken. A single cup that stood 
upon the table (almost the only thing remaining) jumped up, 
flew across the kitchen, ringing like a bell, and then was 
dashed to pieces against the dresser. A candlestick that stood 
on the chimney-shelf flew across the kitchen to the par- 
lour door, at about fifteen feet distance. A tea-kettle, under 
the dresser, was thrown out about two feet; another kettle 
that stood at one end of the range, was thrown against the 
iron that is fixed to prevent children falling into the fire. A 
tumbler with rum-and-water in it that stood upon a waiter 
upon a table in the parlour, jumped about ten feet, and was 
broken. The table then fell down, and along with it a silver 
tankard belonging to Mrs. Golding, the waiter, in which 
stood the tumbler, and a candlestick. A case bottle then flew 
to pieces. 

‘The next circumstance was a ham that hung in one side of 
the kitchen chimney; it raised itself from the hook and fell • 
down to the ground. Some time after, another ham that hung 
on the other side of the chimney, likewise underwent the same 
fate. Then a flitch of bacon, which hung up in the same 
chimney, fell down. 

‘All the family were eye-witnesses to these circ umstan ces, as 
well as other persons, some of whom were so alarmed and 
shocked, that they could not bear to stay, and were happy in 
getting away, though the unhappy family were left in the 
midst of their distresses. Most of the genteel famili es around 
were continually sending to inquire after them, and whether 

294 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

all was over or not. Is it not surprising that some among them 
had not the inclination and resolution to try to unravel this 
most intricate affair, at a time when it would have been in 
their power to have done so? there certainly was sufficient 
time for so doing, as the whole, from first to last, continued 
upwards of twenty hours. 

‘At all the times of action, Mrs. Golding’s servant was walk- 
ing backwards and forwards, either in the kitchen or parlour, 
or wherever some of the family happened to be. Nor could 
they get her to sit down five minutes together, except at one 
time for about half an hour towards the morning, when the 
family wore at prayers in the parlour; then all was quiet; but in 
the midst of the greatest confusion, she was as much com- 
posed as at any other time, and with uncommon coolness of 
temper advised her mistress not to be alarmed or uneasy, as 
she said these things could not be helped. Thus she argued, as 
if they were common occurrences which must happen in every 
family. 

‘This advice surprised and startled her mistress almost as 
much as the circumstances that occasioned it. For how can we 
suppose that a girl of about twenty years old (an age when 
female timidity is too often assisted by superstition) could re- 
main in the midst of such calamitous circumstances (except 
they proceed from causes best known to herself) and not be 
struck with the same terror as every other person was who was 
present? These reflections led Mr. Pain, and at the end of the 
transactions, likewise Mrs. Golding, to think that she was not 
altogether so unconcerned as she appeared to be. But hitherto, 
the whole remains mysterious and unravelled. 

‘About ten o’clock at night, they sent over the way to 
Richard Fowler, to desire he would come and stay with them. 
He came, and continued till one in the mo rning , and was so 
terrified that he could remain no longer. 

‘As Mrs. Golding could not be persuaded to go to bed, Mrs. 
Pain at that time (one o’clock) made an excuse to go up stairs 
to her youngest child, under pretence of getting it to sleep, but 
she redly acknowledges it was through fear, as she declares she 
could not sit up to see such strange things going on, as every- 
thing, one after another, was broken, till there was not above 

295 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

two or three cups and saucers remaining out of a considerable 
quantity of china, etc., which was destroyed to the amount of 
some pounds. 

‘About five o’clock on Tuesday morning, Mrs. Golding 
went up to her niece, and desired her to get up, as the noises 
and destruction were so great, she could continue in the house 
no longer. At this time all the tables, chairs, drawers, etc., were 
tumbling about. When Mrs. Pain came down, it was amazing 
beyond all description. Their only security then was to quit 
the house, for fear of the same catastrophe as had been ex- 
pected the morning before, at Mrs. Golding’s; in consequence 
of this resolution, Mrs. Golding and her maid went over the 
way to Richard Fowler’s. When Mrs. Golding’s maid had seen 
her safe to Richard Fowler’s, she came back to Mrs. Pain, to 
help her to dress the children in the bam, where she had car- 
ried them for fear of the house falling. At this time all was 
quiet; they then went to Fowler’s, and then began the same 
scene as had happened at the other places. It must be re- 
marked, all was quiet here as well as elsewhere, till the maid 
returned. 

• ‘When they got to Mr. Fowler’s, he began to light a fire in 
his back room. When done, he put the candle and candlestick 
upon a table in the fore room. This apartment Mrs. Golding 
and her maid had passed through. Another candlestick with a 
tin lamp in it, that stood by it, were both dashed together, and 
fell to the ground. A lantern with which Mrs. Golding was 
lighted across the road, sprang from a hook to the ground, and 
a quantity of oil spilled on the floor. The last thing was the 
basket of coals tumbled over; the coals rolling about the room; 
the maid then desired Richard Fowler not to let her mistress 
remain there, as she said, wherever she was the same thing s 
would follow. In consequence of this advice, and fearing 
greater losses to himself, he desired she would quit his house; 
but first begged her to consider within herself, for her own and 
the public’s sake, whether or not she had not been guilty of 
some atrocious crime, for which Providence was determined to 
pursue her on this side of the grave, for he could not help 
thinking she was the object that was to be made an example to 
posterity, by the all-seeing eye of Providence, for crimes which 

296 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

but too often none but that Providence can penetrate, and by 
such means as these bring to light. 

‘Thus was the poor gentlewoman’s measure of affliction 
complete, not only to have undergone all which has been re- 
lated, but to have added to it, the character of a bad and wicked 
woman, when till this time she was esteemed as a most deserv- 
ing person. In candour to Fowler, he could not be blamed; 
what could he do? what would any man have done that was so 
circumstanced? Mrs. Goldin g soon satisfied him ; she told him 
she would not stay in his house, or any other person’s, as her 
conscience was quite clear, and she could as well wait the will 
of Providence in her own house as in any other place whatever: 
upon which she and her maid went home. Mr. Pain went with 
them. After they had got to Mrs. Goldin g ’s, the last time, the 
same transactions once more began upon the remains that were 
left. 

‘A nine-gallon cask of beer, that was in the cellar, the door 
being open, and no person near it, turned upside down. A pail 
of water that stood on the floor, boiled like a pot. A box of 
candles fell from a shelf in the kitchen to the floor; they rolled 
out, but none were broken; and a round mahogany table upset 
in the parlour. 

‘Mr. Pain then desired Mrs. Golding to send her maid for 
his wife to come to them; when she was gone, all was quiet; 
upon her return she was immediately discharged, and no dis- 
turbances have happened since; this was between six and seven 
o’clock on Tuesday morning. 

‘At Mrs. Golding’s were broken the quantity of three pails- 
ful of glass, china, etc. At Mrs. Pain’s they filled two pails. 

‘Thus ends the narrative: a true, circumstantial, and faithful 
account of which we have laid before the public; and have en- 
deavoured, as much as possible, throughout the whole, to state 
only facts, without presuming to obtrude any opinion on them. 
If we have in part hinted anything that may appear unfavour- 
able to the girl, it is not from a dete rmin ation to charge her 
with the cause, right or wrong, but only from a strict adher- 
ence to truth, most sincerely wishin g this extraordinary affair 
may be unravelled. 

‘The above narrative is absolutely and strictly true, in 

297 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
witness whereof we have set our hands this eleventh day of 
January, 1772. 

(Sgd.) Mary Golding 
John Pain 
Mary Pain 
Richard Fowler 
Sarah Fowler 
Mary Martin 

‘The original copy of this narrative, signed as above, with 
the parties’ own hands, was put into the hands of Mr. Marks, 
bookseller, in St Martin’s Lane, to satisfy persons who choose 
to inspect the same.’ 

Such phenomena as this of the Stockwell Ghost are by no 
means unc ommo n; and I am acquainted with many more in- 
stances than I can allude to here. One occurred very lately in 
the neighbourhood of London, as I learnt from the following 
newspaper paragraph. I subsequently heard that the little girl 
had been sent away, but whether the phenomena then ceased, 
or whether she carried the disturbance with her, I have not 
been able to ascertain, nor does it appear certain that she had 
anything to do with it. 

‘A Mischievous and Mysterious Ghost.— (From a Corre- 
spondent.) — The whole of the neighbourhood of Black Lion- 
lane, Bayswater, is ringing with the extraordinary occurrences 
that have recently happened in the house of a Mr. Williams, in 
the Moscow Road, and which bear a strong resemblance to the 
celebrated Stockwell ghost affair of 1772. The house is inhabited 
by Mr. and Mrs. Williams; a grown-up son and daughter, and 
a little girl between ten and eleven years of age. On the first 
day, the family, who are remarkable for their piety, were 
startled all at once by a mysterious movement among the 
things in the sitting-rooms and kitchen, and other parts of the 
house. At one time, without any visible agency, one of the jugs 
came off the hook over the dresser, and was broken; then fol- 
lowed another; and next day another. A china teapot, with the 
tea just made in it, and placed on the mantelpiece, whisked 
off on the floor, and was smashed. A pewter one, which had 
been substituted immediately after, did the same, and when 

298 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

put on the table, was seen to hop about as if bewitched, and 
was actually held down while the tea was made for Mr. Wil- 
liams’s breakfast, before leaving for his place of business. 
When for a time all had been quiet, off came from its place on 
the wall a picture in a heavy gilt frame, and fell to the floor 
without being broken. All was now amazement and terror, for 
the old people are very superstitious, and ascribing it to a 
supernatural agency, the other pictures were removed, and 
stowed away on the floor. But the spirit of locomotion was not 
to be arrested. Jugs and plates continued at intervals to quit 
their posts, and skip off their hooks and shelves into the middle 
of the room, as though they were inspired by the magic flute; 
and at supper, when the litde girl’s mug was filled with beer, 
the mug slided off the table on to the floor. Three times it was 
replenished and replaced, and three times it moved off again. 
It would be tedious to relate the fantastic tricks which have 
been played by household articles of every kind. An Egyptian 
vase jumped off the table suddenly when no soul was near, and 
was smashed to pieces. The tea-kettle popped off the fire into 
the grate as Mr. Williams had filled the teapot, which fell off 
the chimney-piece. Candlesticks, after a dance on the table, 
flew off, and ornaments from the shelves, and bonnets and 
cap-boxes flung about in the oddest manner. A looking-glass 
hopped off a dressing-table followed by combs and brushes 
and several bottles, and a great pincushion has been remark- 
ably conspicuous for its incessant jigs from one part to an- 
other. The litde girl, who is a Spaniard, and under the care of 
Mr. and Mrs. Williams, is supposed by their friends to be the 
cause of it all, however extraordinary it may seem in one of her 
age; but up to the present time it continues a mystery, and the 
modus operandi is invisible .’ — Morning Post. 

To imagine that these extraordinary effects were produced 
by the voluntary agency of the child, furnishes one of those 
remarkable instances of the credulity of the sceptical, to which 
I have referred. But when we read a true statement of the 
effects involuntarily exhibited by Angelique Cottin, we begin 
to see that it is just possible the other strange phenomena may 
be produced by a similar agency. 

The French Academy of Sciences had determined, as they 

299 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

had formerly done by Mesmerism, that the thing should not 
be true, and Monsieur Arago was non-suited; but although it is 
extremely possible that either the phenomenon had run its 
course and arrived at a natural termination, or that the removal 
of the girl to Paris had extinguished it, there appears no doubt 
that it had previously existed. 

Angelique Cottin was a native of La Perriere, aged fourteen, 
when on the 15th January, 1846, at eight o’clock in the even- 
ing, whilst weaving silk gloves at an oaken frame, in company 
with other girls, the frame began to jerk and they could not by 
any efforts keep it steady. It seemed as if it were alive, and be- 
coming alarmed, they called in the neighbours, who would not 
believe them; but desired them to sit down and go on with their 
work. Being timid, they went one by one, and the frame re- 
mained still, till Angelique approached, when it recommenced 
its movements, whilst she was also attracted by the frame: 
thinking she was bewitched or possessed, her parents took her 
to the Presbytery that the spirit might be exorcized. The 
curate, however, being a sensible man, refttsed to do it: but set 
himself, on the contrary, to observe the phenomenon; and be- 
ing perfectly satisfied of the fact, he bade them take her to a 
physician. 

Meanwhile, the intensity of the influence, whatever it was, 
augmented; not only articles made of oak, but all sorts of 
things were acted upon by it and reacted upon her, whilst per- 
sons who were near her, even without contact, frequently felt 
electric shocks. The effects, which were diminished when she 
was on a carpet or even a waxed cloth, were most remarkable 
when she was on the bare earth. They sometimes entirely 
ceased for two or three days, and then recommenced. Metals 
were not affected. Anything touched by her apron or dress 
would fly off, although a person held it; and Monsieur Hebert, 
whilst seated on a heavy tub or trough, was raised up with it. 
In short, the only place she could repose on was a stone cov- 
ered with cork; they also kept her still by isolating her. When 
she was fatigued the effects diminished. A needle suspended 
horizontally, oscillated rapidly with the motion of her arm 
without contact, or remained fixed, whilst devia ting from the 
magnetic direction. Great numbers of enlightened medical and 

300 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

scientific men witnessed these phenomena, and investigated 
them with every precaution to prevent imposition. She was 
often hurt by the violent involuntary movements she was 
thrown into, and was evidently afflicted by chorea. 

Unfortunately, her parents, poor and ignorant, insisted, 
much against the advice of the doctors, on exhibiting her for 
money; and, under these circumstances, she was brought to 
Paris; and nothing is more probable, than, that after the pheno- 
mena had really ceased, die girl may have been induced to 
simulate what had originally been genuine; the thing avowedly 
ceased altogether on the evening of the xoth April, and there 
has been no return of it. 

In 1831, a young girl, also aged fourteen, who lived as under 
nursery-maid, in a French family, exhibited the same pheno- 
mena; and when the case of Angelique Cottin was made pub- 
lic, her master published hers. He says that thing s of such an 
extraordinary nature occurred as he dare not repeat, since none 
but an eye-witness could believe them. The thin g lasted for 
three years, and there was ample time for observation. 

In the year 1686 a man, at Brussels, called Breekmans was 
similarly affected. A commission was appointed by the magis- 
trates to investigate his condition; and, being pronounced a 
sorcerer, he would have been burnt, had he not luckily made 
his escape. 

Many somnambulic persons are capable of giving an electric 
shock; and I have met with one person, not somnambulic, who 
informs me that he has frequently been able to do it by an effort 
of the will. 

Dr. Ennemsoer relates the case of a Mademoiselle Emmer- 
ich, sister to the professor of theology at Strasburg, who also 
possessed this power. This young lady, who appears to have 
been a person of very rare merit and endowments, was afflicted 
with a long and singular malady, originating in a fright, in the 
course of which she exhibited many very curious phenomena, 
having fallen into a state of natural so mnamb ulism, accom- 
panied by a high degree of lucidity. Her body became so sur- 
charged with electricity that it was necessary to her relief to 
discharge it; and she sometimes imparted a complete battery of 
shocks to her brother and her physician, or whoever was near, 

301 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
and that, frequently, when they did not touch her. Professor 
Emm erich mentions also, that she sent him a smart shock, one 
day, when he was several rooms off. He started up, and rushed 
into her chamber, where she was in bed, and as soon as she 
saw him she said, laughing, c Ah, you felt it, did you?’ Made- 
moiselle Emmerich’s illness terminated in death. 

Catugno, a sturgeon, relates that having touched with his 
scalpel the intercostal nerve of a mouse that had bitten his leg, 
he received an electric shock; and where the torpedo abounds, 
the fishermen, in pouring water over the fish they have caught, 
for the purpose of washing them, know if one is amongst 
them by the shock they sustain. 

A very extraordinary circumstance, which we may possibly 
attribute to some such influence as the above, occurred at 
Rambouillet, in November, 1846. The particulars are fur- 
nished by a gentleman residing on the spot at the time, and 
were published by the Baron Dupotet, who, however, attempts 
no explanation of the mystery. 

One morning, some travelling merchants, or pedlars, came 
to the door of a farm house, belonging to a man named Bottel, 
and asked for some bread, which the maid servant gave them 
and they went away. Subsequently one of the party returned to 
ask for more, and was refused. The man I believe expressed 
some resentment, and uttered vague threats, but she would not 
give him anything, and he departed. That night at supper the 
plates began to dance and to roll off the table, without any vis- 
ible cause, and several other unaccountable phenomena oc- 
curred; and the girl going to the door and chancing to place 
herself just where the pedlar had stood, she was seized with 
convulsions and an extraordinary rotatory motion. The carter 
who was standing by, laughed at her, and out of bravado, 
placed hims elf on the same spot, when he felt almost suffo- 
cated, and was so unable to command his movements, that he 
was overturned into a large pool that was in front of the house. 

Upon this, they rushed to the cure of the parish for assist- 
ance; but he had scarcely said a prayer or two, before he was 
attacked in the same maimer, though in his own house; and his 
furniture beginning to oscillate and crack as if it were be- 
witched, the poor people were frightened out of their wits. 

302 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

By and by the phenomena intermitted, and they hoped all 
was over; but presently it began again; and this occurred more 
than once before it subsided wholly. 

On the 8th December, 1836, at Stuttgart, Carl Fischer, a 
baker’s boy, aged seventeen, of steady habits and good char- 
acter, was fixed with a basket on his shoulders in some un- 
accountable way in front of his master’s house. He foresaw the 
t hing was to happen when he went out very early, with his 
bread in the morning; earnestly wished that the day was over, 
and told his companion that if he could only cross the thres- 
hold, on his return, he should escape it. It was about six when 
he did return; and his master hearing a fearful noise, which he 
could not describe, ‘as if proceeding from a multitude of be- 
ings,’ looked out of the window, where he saw Carl violently 
struggling and fighting with his apron, though his feet were 
immovably fixed to one spot. A hissing sound proceeded from 
his mouth and nose, and a voice which was neither his nor that 
of any person present, was heard to cry, ‘Stand fast, Carl!’ 
The master says, that he could not have believed such a thing; 
and he was so alarmed that he did not venture into the street, 
where numerous persons were assembled. The boy said he 
must remain there till eleven o’clock: and the police kept 
guard over him till that time, as the physician said he must not 
be interfered with, and the people sought to push him from the 
spot. When the time had expired, he was carried to the hos- 
pital, where he seemed exceedingly exhausted, and fell into a 
profound sleep. 

I meet with numerous extraordinary records of a preter- 
natural ringing of all the bells in a house; sometimes occurring 
periodically for a considerable time; and continuing after 
precautions have been taken which precluded the possibility 
of trick or deception, the wires being cut, and vigilant eyes 
watching them; and yet they rung on by day or night, just the 
same. 

It is certainly very diffi cult to conceive, but at the same time 
it is not impossible that such strange phenomena as that of 
the Stockwell Ghost and many similar ones, may be the mani- 
festations of some extraordinary electrical influence; but there 
are other cases of poltergeists, which it is impossible to attri- 

303 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

bute to the same cause, since they are accompanied by evident 
manif estations of will and intelligence. Such was the instance 
related in Southey’s Life of Wesley, which occurred in the 
year 1716, beginning with a groaning, and subsequently pro- 
ceeding to all mann er of noises, lifting of latches, clattering of 
windows, knockings of a most mysterious kind, etc., etc. The 
family were not generally frightened, but the young children, 
when asleep, showed symptoms of great terror. This annoy- 
ance lasted, I think , two or three months, and then ceased. 
As in most of these cases, the dog was extremely frightened, 
and hid himself when the visitation commenced. 

In the year 1838, a circumstance of the same kind occurred 
in Paris, in the Rue St. Honore, and not very long ago, there 
was one in Caithness, in which most unaccountable circum- 
stances transpired. Amongst the rest, stones were flung, which 
never hit people, but fell at their feet, in rooms perfectly closed 
on all sides. A gentleman who witnessed these extraordinary 
phenomena, related the whole story to an advocate of my 
acquaintance; who assured me, that however impossible he 
found it to credit such things, he should certainly place entire 
reliance on that gentleman’s word in any other case. 

Then there is the famous story of the Drummer of Ted- 
worth; 1 and the persecution of Professor Schuppart, at 
Giessen, in Upper Hesse, which continued with occasional 
intermission for six years. This affair began with a violent 
knocking at the door one night; next day stones were sent 
whizzing through closed rooms in all directions; so that al- 
though no one was struck, the windows were all broken; and 
no sooner were new panes put in, than they were broken again. 
He was persecuted with slaps on the face by day and by night, 
so that he could get no rest; and when two persons were 
appointed by the authorities to sit by his bed to watch him, 
they got die slaps also. When he was reading at his desk, his 
lamp would suddenly rise up and remove to the other end of 

1 There was also a remarkable case of this sort at Mr. Chave’s, in 
Devonshire, in the year 1810, where affidavits were made before the 
magistrates attesting the facts, and large rewards offered for dis- 
covery; but in vain. The phenomena continued several months, and 
the spiritual agent was frequently seen in the form of some strange 
animal* 


304 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

the room — not as if thrown, but evidently carried: his books 
were tom to pieces and flung at his feet, and when he was 
lecturing, this mischievous sprite would tear out the leaf he 
was reading; and it is very remarkable that the only thing that 
seemed available, as a protection, was a drawn sword brand- 
ished over his head by himself, or others, which was one of the 
singularities attending the case of the Dr umm er of Tedworth. 
Schuppart narrated all these circumstances in his public lec- 
tures, and nobody ever disputed the facts. 

A remarkable case of this sort occurred in the year 1670, at 
Keppoch, near Glasgow; there also stones were thrown which 
hit nobody; but the annoyance only continued eight days; 
and there are several more to be found recorded in works of 
that period. The disturbance that happened in the house of 
Gilbert Campbell, at Glenluce, excited considerable notice. 
Here, as elsewhere, stones were thrown; but, as in most similar 
instance I meet with, no human being was damaged; the 
licence of these spirits or goblins, or whatever they be, seeming 
generally to extend no further than worrying and tormenting 
their victims. In this case, however, the spirit spoke to thfem, 
though he was never seen. The annoyance commenced in 
November of the year 1654 , 1 think, and continued till April, 
when there was some intermission till July, when it recom- 
menced. The loss of the family from the things destroyed was 
ruining; for their household goods and chattels were rendered 
useless, their food was polluted and spoiled, and their very 
clothes cut to pieces whilst on their backs by invisible hands; 
and it was in vain that all the ministers about the country 
assembled to exorcize this troublesome spirit, for whoever 
was there, the thing continued exactly the same. 

At length, poor Campbell applied to the Synod of Presbyters 
for advice; a meeting was convened in October, 1655, and a 
solemn day of h umili ation was imposed through the whole 
bounds of the Presbytery, for the sake of the afflicted family. 
Whether it was owing to this or not, there ensued an allevia- 
tion from that time to April; and from April till August they 
were entirely free, and hoped all was over; but then it began 
again worse than ever, and they were dreadfully tormented 
through the aut umn ; after which the disturbance ceased, and 

u 305 S.P. 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
although the famil y lived in the house many years afterwards, 
nothing of the sort ever happened again. 

There was another famous case, which occurred at a place 
called Ring-Croft, in Kirkcudbright, in the year 1695. The 
afflicted family bore the name of Mackie. In this instance, the 
stones did sometimes hit them, and they were beaten as if by 
staves; they, as well as strangers who came to the house, were 
lifted off the ground by their clothes, their bed coverings were 
taken off their beds; thing s were visibly carried about the 
house by invisible hands; several people were hurt, even to the 
effusion of blood, by stones and blows; there were fire-balls 
seen about the house, which was several times actually ignited: 
people, both of the family and others, felt themselves grasped 
as if by a hand; then there was groaning, crying, whistling, and 
a voice that frequently spoke to them; crowds of people went 
to the house, but the thing continued just the same whether 
there were many or few, and sometimes the whole building 
shook as if it were coming down. 

A day of h umiliat ion was appointed in this case also, but 
without the least effect. The disturbance co mme nced in 
February, and ended on the 1st of May. Numberless people 
witnessed the phenomena, and the account of it is attested by 
fourteen ministers and gentlemen. 

The same sort of thing occurred in the year 1659, in a place 
inhabited by an Evangelical bishop, called Schlotterbeck. It 
began in the same maimer by throwing of stones and other 
things, many of which came through the roof; insomuch that 
they believed at first that some animal was concealed there. 
However, nothing could be found, and the invisible guest 
soon proceeded to other annoyances similar to those above- 
mentioned; and though they could not see him, his footsteps 
were for ever heard about the house. At length, wearied out, the 
bishop applied to the Government for aid, and they sent him a 
company of soldiers to guard the house by day and night, out of 
which he and his family retired. But the goblin cared no more 
for the soldiers than it had done for the city watch; the thing 
continued without intermission, whoever was there, till it ceased 
of its own accord. There was a house at Aix-la-Chapelle that 
was for several years quite uninhabitable from a s imilar cause. 

306 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

I could mention many other cases, and, as I have said before, 
they occur in all countries; but these will suffice as specimens 
of die class. It is in vain for people who were not on the spot 
to laugh, and assert that these were the mischievous tricks of 
servants, or others, when those who were there, and who had 
such a deep interest in unravelling the mystery, and such 
abundance of time and opportunity for doing it, could find no 
solution whatever. In many of the above cases the catde were 
unloosed, the horses were turned out of their stables, and 
uniformly all the animals in the way exhibited great terror, 
sweating and trembling whilst the visitation continued. 

Since we cannot but believe that man forms but one class 
in an immense range of existences, do not these strange occur- 
rences suggest the idea, that occasionally some individual out 
of this gamut of beings comes into rapport with us, or crosses 
our path like a comet, and that, whilst certain conditions last; 
it can hover about us, and play these puckish, mischievous 
tricks, till the charm is broken, and then it re-enters its own 
sphere, and we are cognizant of it no more! 

But one of the most extraordinary examples of this kind of . 
annoyance, is that which occurred in the year 1806, in the 
castle of Prince Hohenlohe, in Silesia. The account is given at 
length by Councillor Hahn, of Ingelfingen, who witnessed the 
circumstances; and, in consequence of the various remarks 
that have been since made on the subject, in different publica- 
tions, he has repeatedly reasserted the facts in letters which 
have been printed and laid before the public. I cannot, there- 
fore, see what right we have to disbelieve a man of honour and 
character, as he is said to be, merely because the circumstances 
he narrates are unaccountable, more especially as the story, 
strange as it is, by no means stands alone in the annals of 
demonology. The following details were written down at the 
time the events occurred, and they were communicated by 
Councillor Hahn to Dr. Kemer in the year 1828. 

‘After the campaign of the Prussians against the French in 
the year 1806, the reigning Prince of Hohenlohe gave orders to 
Councillor Hahn, who was in his service, to proceed to Slawen- 
sick, and there to wait his return. His Serene Highness ad- 
vanced from Leignitz towards his principality, and Hahn also 

307 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
commenced Ms journey towards Upper Silesia on the 19th 
November. At the same period, Charles Kern, of Kuntzlau, 
who had fallen into the hands of the French, being released on 
parole, and arriving at Leignitz, in an infirm condition, he 
was allowed to spend some time with Hahn, whilst awaiting 
Ms exchange. 

‘Hahn and Kern had been friends in their youth, and their 
destinies having brought them both at this time into the Prus- 
sian States, they were lodged together in the same apartment 
of the castle, wMch was one on the first floor, fo rming an 
angle at the back of the building, one side looking towards the 
north, and the other to the east. On the right of the door of this 
room was a glass door, wMch led into a chamber divided from 
those wMch followed by a wainscot partition. The door in tMs 
wainscot, wMch communicated to those adjoining rooms, was 
entirely closed up, because in them all sorts of household 
utensils were kept. Neither in tMs chamber, nor in the sitting- 
room wMch preceded it, was there any opening whatever 
wMch could fumish the means of communication from with- 
out; nor was there anybody in the castle besides the two 
friends, except the Prince’s two coachmen and Hahn’s ser- 
vant. The whole party were fearless people; and as for Hahn 
and Kem they believed in nothing less than ghosts or witches, 
nor had any previous experience induced them to turn their 
thoughts in that direction. Hahn, during Ms collegiate life had 
been much given to philosophy — had listened to Fichte, and 
earnestly studied the writings of Kant. The result of Ms 
reflections was a pure materialism; and he looked upon created 
man, not as an aim, but merely as a means to a yet undeveloped 
aid. These opimons he has since changed, like many others, 
who think very differently in their fortieth year to what they 
did in their twentieth. The particulars here given are necessary 
in order to obtain credence for the following extraordinary 
narrative, and to establish the fact that the phenomena were 
not merely accepted by ignorant superstition, but coolly and 
courageously investigated by enlightened minds. During the 
first days of their residence in the castle, the two friends, 
living together in solitude, amused their long evenings by the 
works of Schiller, of whom they were both great a dmir ers; and 

308 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

Hahn usually read aloud. Three days had thus passed quietly 
away, when, as they were sitting at the table, which stood in the 
middle of the room, about nine o’clock in the evening, their 
reading was interrupted by a small shower of lime, which fell 
around them. They looked at the ceiling, concluding it must 
have come thence, but could perceive no abraded parts, and 
whilst they were yet seeking to ascertain whence the lime had 
proceeded, there suddenly fell several larger pieces, which 
were quite cold, and appeared as if they had belonged to the 
external wall. At length, concluding the lime must have fallen 
from some part of the wall, and giving further inquiry, they 
went to bed, and slept quietly till the mornin g , when, on 
awaking, they were somewhat surprised at the quantity which 
strewed the floor, more especially as they could still discover 
no part of the walls or ceiling from which it could have fallen. 
But they thought no more of the matter till evening, when, 
instead of the lime falling as before, it was thrown, and several 
pieces struck Hahn. At the same time, they heard heavy blows, 
sometimes below, and sometimes over their heads, like the 
sound of distant guns; still attributing these sounds to natural 
causes, they went to bed as usual, but the uproar prevented 
their sleeping, and each accused the other of occasioning it by 
kicking with his feet against the footboard of his bed, till, 
finding that the noise continued when they both got out and 
stood together in the middle of the room, they were satisfied 
that this was not the case. On the following evening, a third 
noise was added, which resembled the feint and distant 
beating of a drum. Upon this, they requested the governess of 
the castle to send them the key of the apartments above and 
below, which was brought them by her son; and, whilst he and 
Kern went to make their investigations, Hahn remained in 
their own room. Above, they found an empty room; below, 
a kitchen. They knocked, but the noise they made was very 
different to that which Hahn continued all the while to hear 
around him. When they returned, Hahn said jestingly, ‘The 
place is haunted!’ On this night, when they went to bed with a 
light burning, they heard what seemed like a person walking 
about the room with slippers on, and a stick, with which he 
struck the floor as he moved step by step. Hahn continued to 

309 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

jest, and Kern to laugh, at the oddness of these circumstances 
for some time, when they both as usual fell asleep, neither in 
the slightest degree disturbed by these events, nor inclined to 
attribute them to any supernatural cause. But on the following 
evening the affair became more inexplicable; various articles 
in the room were thrown about; knives, forks, brushes, caps, 
slippers, padlocks, funnel, snuffers, soap — everything in short 
that was moveable; whilst lights darted from comer to comer, 
and everything was in confusion; at the same time the lime 
fell, and the blows continued. Upon this, the two friends called 
up the servants, Knittel, the castle watch and whoever else 
was at hand, to be witnesses of these mysterious operations. 
In the mornin g all was quiet, and generally continued so till 
about an hour after midnight. One evening, Kern going into 
the above-mentioned chamber to fetch something, and hear- 
ing such an uproar that it almost drove him backwards to the 
door, Hahn caught up the light, and both rushed into the 
room, where they found a large piece of wood lying close to the 
wainscot. But supposing this to be the cause of the noise, who 
had set it in motion? For Kern was sure the door was shut, 
even whilst the noise was making; neither had there been any 
wood in the room. Frequently, before their eyes, the knives 
and snuffers rose from the table, and fell, after some minutes, 
to the ground; and Hahn’s large shears were once lifted in this 
manner, between him and one of the Prince’s cooks, and, fall- 
ing to the ground, stuck into the floor. As some nights, how- 
ever, passed quite quietly, Hahn was determined not to leave 
the rooms; but when, for three weeks, the disturbance was so 
constant that they could get no rest, they resolved on removing 
their beds into the large room above, in hopes of once more 
enjoying a little quiet sleep. Their hopes were vain — the 
thumping continued as before; and not only so, but articles 
flew about the room, which they were quite sure they had left 
below. ‘They may fling as they will,’ cried Hahn, ‘sleep I 
must*; whilst Kern began to undress, pondering on these 
matters as he walked up and down the room. Suddenly Hahn 
saw him stand, as if transfixed, before the looking-glass, on 
which he had accidentally cast his eyes. He had so stood for 
some minutes, when he was seized with a violent trembling, 

310 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

and turned from the mirror with his face as white as death. 
Hahn, fancying the cold of the uninhabited room had seized 
him, hastened to throw a cloak over him; when Kern, who was 
naturally very courageous, recovered hims elf, and related, 
though with trembling lips, that, as he had accidentally looked 
in the glass, he had seen a white female figure looking out of it; 
she was in front of his own image, which he distinctly saw 
behind her. At first he could not believe his eyes; he thought 
it must be fancy, and for that reason he had stood so long; but 
when he saw that the eyes of the figure moved, and looked into 
his, a shudder had seized him, and he had turned away. Hahn 
upon this advanced with firm steps to the front of the mirror, 
and called upon the apparition to show itself to him; but he 
saw nothing, although he remained a quarter of an hour before 
the glass, and frequently repeated his exhortation. Kern then 
further related that the features of the apparition were very 
old, but not gloomy or morose; the expression indeed was 
rather that of indifference; but the face was very pale, and the 
head was wrapped in a cloth which left only the features visible. 

‘By this time it was four o’clock in the morning — sleep was 
banished from their eyes — and they resolved to return to the 
lower room, and have their beds brought back again; but the 
people who were sent to fetch them returned, declaring they 
could not open the door, although it did not appear to be 
fastened. They were sent back again; but a second and a third 
time they returned with the same answer. Then Hahn went 
himself, and opened it with the greatest ease. The four ser- 
vants, however, solemnly declared that all their united 
strengths could make no impression on it. 

‘In this way a month had elapsed: the strange events at the 
castle had got spread abroad; and amongst others who desired 
to convince themselves of the fact were two Bavarian officers 
of dragoons, namely. Captain Comet and Lieutenant Magerle, 
of the regiment of Minuci. Magerle offering to remain in the 
room alone, the others left him, but scarcely had they passed 
into the next apartment, when they heard Magerle storming 
like a man in a passion, and cutting away at the tables and 
chairs with his sabre, whereupon the Captain thought it 
advisable to return, in order to rescue the furniture from his 

311 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

rage. They found the door shut, but he opened it on their 
s umm ons and related, in great excitement, that as soon as they 
had quitted the room, some cursed thing had begun to fling 
lime, and other matters, at him; and, having examined every 
part of the room without being able to discover the agent of the 
mischief, he had fallen into a rage and cut madly about him . 

‘The party now passed the rest of the evening together in 
the room, and the two Bavarians closely watched Hahn and 
Kern, in order to satisfy themselves that the mystery was no 
trick of theirs. All at once, as they were quietly sitting at the 
table, the snuffers rose into the air, and fell again to the 
ground behind Magerle; and a leaden ball flew at Hahn, and 
hit him upon the breast, and presently afterwards they heard a 
noise at the glass door, as if somebody had struck his fist 
through it, together with a sound of falling glass. On investiga- 
tion they found the door entire, but a broken drinking-glass on 
the floor. By this time the Bavarians were convinced, and they 
retired from the room to seek repose in one more peaceful. 

‘Amongst other strange circumstances, the following, which 
occurred to Hahn, is remarkable. One evening about eight 
o’clock, being about to shave himself, the implements for the 
purpose, which were lying on a pyramidal stand in a comer of 
the room, flew at him, one after the other — the soap-box, the 
razor, the brush and the soap — and fell at his feet, although he 
was standing several paces from the pyramid. He and Kern, 
who was sitting at the table, laughed, for they were now so 
accustomed to these events, that they only made them sub- 
jects of diversion. In the meantime, Hahn poured some water, 
which had been standing on the stove, in a basin, observing 
as he dipped his finger into it, that it was of a nice heat for 
shaving. He seated himself before the table, and stropped his 
razor; but when he attempted to prepare the lather, die water 
had dean vanished out of the basin. Another time, Hahn was 
awakened by goblins throwing at him a squeezed-up piece of 
sheet-lead, in which tobacco had been wrapped, and when he 
stooped to pick it up, the self-same piece was flung at him 
again. When this was repeated a third time, Hahn flung a 
heavy stick at his invisible assailant. 

‘Doifel, the book-keeper, was frequently a witness to these 

312 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

strange events. He once laid his cap on the table by the stove, 
when, being about to depart, he sought for it, it had vanished. 
Four of five tunes he examined the table in vain; presently 
afterwards he saw it lying exactly where he had placed it when 
he came in. On the same table, Knittel having once placed his 
cap, and drawn himself a seat, suddenly — although there was 
nobody near the table — he saw it flying through the room to 
his feet, where it fell. 

‘Hahn now determined to find out the secret himself; and 
for this purpose seated himself with two lights before him, in 
a position where he could see the whole of the room, and all the 
windows and doors it contained; but the same thing s occurred 
even when Kern was out, the servants in the stables, and no- 
body in the castle but himself; and the snuffers were as usual 
flung about, although the closest observation could not detect 
by whom. 

‘The forest-master, Radzensky, spent a night in the room; 
but although the two friends slept, he could get no rest. He 
was bombarded without intermission; and in the morning, his 
bed was found full of all manner of household articles. 

‘One evening, in spite of all the drumming and flinging, 
Hahn was determined to sleep; but a heavy blow on the wall, 
dose to his bed soon waked him from his slumbers. A second 
time he went to sleep, and was awaked by a sensation, as if 
some person had dipped his finger in water, and was sprinkling 
his face with it. He pretended to sleep again, whilst he watched 
Kern and Knittel, who were sitting at the table, the sensation 
of sp rinkling returned; but he could find no water on his face. 

‘About this time, Hahn had occasion to make a journey as 
far as Breslau; and when he returned he heard the strangest 
story of all. In order not to be alone in this mysterious cham- 
ber, Kern had engaged Hahn’s servant, a man of about forty 
years of age, and of entire singleness of character, to stay with 
him. One night as Kern lay in his bed, and this man was 
s tanding near the glass door in conversation with him, to his 
utter amazement he beheld a jug of beer, which stood on a 
table, in a room, at some distance from him, slowly lifted to a 
height of about three feet, and the contents poured into a glass, 
that was standing there also, until the latter was half full. The 

3i3 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
jug was then gently replaced, and the glass lifted and emptied, 
as by someone drinking: whilst John, the servant, exclaimed, in 
terrified surprise, “Lord Jesus! it swallows!” The glass was 
quietly replaced, and not a drop of beer was to be found on the 
floor. Hahn was about to require an oath of John, in corfirma- 
tion of this fact; but forbore, seeing how ready the man was to 
take one, and satisfied of the truth of the relation. 

‘One night, Knetsch, an inspector of the works, passed the 
night with the two friends, and in spite of the unintermitting 
flin ging they all three went to bed. There were lights in the 
room, and presently all three saw two napkins, in the middle 
of the room, rise slowly up to the ceiling, and having there 
spread themselves out flutter down again. The china bowl of a 
pipe, belonging to Kern, flew about and was broken. Knives 
and forks were flung; and at last one of the latter fell on Hahn’s 
head, though fortunately with the handle downwards; and 
having now endured this annoyance for two months, it was 
unanimously resolved to abandon this mysterious chamber for 
this night at all events. John and Kern took up one of the beds 
and carried it into the opposite room, but they were no sooner 
gone than a pitcher for holding chalybeate water flew to the 
feet of the two who remained behind, although no door was 
open, and a brass candlestick was flung to the ground. In the 
opposite room the night passed quietly, although some sounds 
still issued from the forsaken chamber. After this, there was a 
cessation to these strange proceedings, and nothing more 
remarkable occurred, with the exception of the following cir- 
cumstance. Some weeks after the above-mentioned removal, as 
Hahn was returning home, and crossing the bridge that leads 
to the castle gate, he heard the foot of a dog behind him. He 
looked round, and called repeatedly on the name of a grey- 
hound that was much attached to him, thinking it might be 
she, but although he still heard the foot, even when he 
ascended the stairs, as he could see nothing, he concluded it 
was an illusion. Scarcely, however, had he set foot within the 
room, than Kern advanced and took the door out of his hand, 
at the same time calling the dog by name; adding, however, 
immediately that he thought he had seen the dog, but that he 
had no sooner called her than she disappeared. Hahn then 

314 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

inquired if lie liad really seen the dog. “Certainly I did,” 
replied Kern; “she was close behind you — half within the 
door — and that was the reason I took it out of your hand, lest, 
not observing her, you should have shut it suddenly and 
crushed her. It was a white dog and I took it for Flora.” 
Search was immediately made for the dog, but she was found 
locked up in the stable, and had not been out of it the whole 
day. It is certainly remarkable — even supposing Hahn to have 
been deceived with respect to the footsteps — that Kern should 
have seen a white dog behind him before he had heard a word 
on the subject from his friend, especially as there was no such 
animal in die neighbourhood; besides, it was not yet dark, and 
Kern was very sharp-sighted. 

‘Hahn remained in the castle for half-a-year after this, with- 
out experiencing anything extraordinary; and even persons 
who had possession of these mysterious chambers were not 
subjected to any annoyance. 

‘The riddle, however, in spite of all the perquisitions and 
investigations that were set on foot remained unsolved — no 
explanation of these strange events could be found; and even 
supposing any motive could exist, there was nobody in the 
neighbourhood clever enough to have carried on such a 
system of persecution, which lasted so long that the inhabit- 
ants of the chamber became almost indifferent to it. 

‘In conclusion, it is only necessary to add that Councillor 
Hahn wrote down this account for his own satisfaction, with 
the strictest regard to truth. His words are: 

‘ “I have described these events exactly as I heard and saw 
them; from beginning to end I observed them with the most 
entire self-possession. I had no fear, nor the slightest tendency 
to it; yet the whole thing remains to me perfecdy inexplicable. 
Written the 19th November, 1808. 

‘ “Augustus Hahn, Councillor ” 

‘Doubtless many natural explanations of these phenomena 
will be suggested, by those who consider themselves above the 
weakness of crediting stories of this description. Some say that 
Kern was a dexterous juggler, who contrived to throw dust in 
the eyes of his friend Hahn; whilst others affirm that both 

315 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
Hahn and Kern were intoxicated every evening. I did not fail 
to communicate these objections to Hahn, and here insert his 
answer. 

* “After the events alluded to, I resided with Kern for a 
quarter of a year in another part of the Castle of Slawensick 
(which has been since struck by lightning and burnt), without 
findin g a solution of the mystery, or experiencing a repetition 
of the annoyance, which discontinued from the moment we 
quitted those particular apartments. Those persons must sup- 
pose me very weak, who can imagine it possible, that with only 
one companion, I could have been the subject of his sport for 
two months without detecting him. As for Kern himself, he 
was, horn the first, very anxious to leave the rooms; but as I 
was unwilling to resign the hope of discovering some natural 
cause for these phenomena, I persisted in remaining; and the 
thing that at last induced me to yield to his wishes was his 
vexation at the loss of his china pipe, which had been thrown 
against the wall and broken. Besides, jugglery requires a 
juggler, and I was frequently quite alone when these things 
occurred. It is equally absurd to accuse us of intoxication. The 
wine there was too dear for us to drink at all, and we confined 
ourselves wholly to weak beer. All the circumstances that 
happened are not set down in the narration; but my recollec- 
tion of the whole is as vivid as if it had occurred yesterday. We 
had also many witnesses, some of whom have been mentioned. 
Councillor Klenk also visited me at a later period, with every 
desire to investigate the mystery; and when one morning he 
had mounted on a table for the purpose of doing so, and was 
knocking at the ceiling with a stick, a powder horn fell upon 
him, which he had just before left on the table in another room. 
At that time Kern had been for some time absent. I neglected 
no possible means that could have led to a discovery of the 
secret; and at least as many people have blamed me, for my 
unwillingness to believe in a supernatural cause, as die reverse. 
Fear is not my failing, as all who are acquainted with me know; 
and to avoid the possibility of error, I frequently asked others 
what they saw when I was myself present; and their answers 
always coincided with what I saw myself. From 1809 till 1811 
I lived in Jacobswald, very near the Castle where the Prince 

316 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
himself was residing. I am aware that some singular circum- 
stances occurred whilst he was there; but as I did not witness 
them myself, I cannot speak of them more particularly. 

‘ “I am still as unable as ever to account for those events, 
and I am content to submit to the hasty remarks of the world, 
knowing that I have only related the truth, and what many 
persons now alive witnessed, as well as myself. 

‘ “Councillor Hahn 

* “Ingelfingen, 24th August, 1829. v> 5 

The only key to this mystery ever discovered was, that after 
the destruction of the castle by lightning, when the ruins were 
removed, there was found the skeleton of a man without a 
coffin. His skull had been split, and a sword lay by his side. 

Now, I am very well aware how absurd and impossible 
these events will appear to many people, and that they will 
have recourse to any explanation rather than a dmi t them for 
facts. Yet, so late as the year 1835, a suit was brought before 
the Sheriff of Edinburgh, in which Captain Molesworth was 
defendant, and the landlord of the house he inhabited (which 
was at Trinity, about a couple of miles from Edinburgh) was 
plaintiff, founded upon circumstances not so varied, certainly, 
but quite as inexplicable. The suit lasted two years, and I have 
been favoured with the particulars of the case by Mr. M. L. 
the advocate employed by the plaintiff, who spent many hours 
in examining the numerous witnesses, several of whom were 
officers of the army, and gentlemen of undoubted honour and 
capacity for observation. 

Captain Molesworth took the house of a Mr. Webster, who 
resided in the adjoining one, in May or June, 1835; and when 
he had been in it about two months, he began to complain 
of sundry extraordinary noises, which, finding it impossible to 
account for, he took it into his head, strangely enough, were 
made by Air. Webster. The latter naturally represented that 
it was not probable he should desire to damage the reputation 
of his own house, or drive his tenant out of it, and retorted the 
accusation. Still, as these noises and knockings continued. 
Captain M., not only lifted the boards in the room most 

1 Translated from the original German. — C.C. 

317 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

infected* but actually made boles in the wall which divided his 
residence from Mr. W’s, for the purpose of detecting the 
delinquent — of course without success. Do what they would* 
the thing went on just the same* footsteps of invisible feet, 
knockings and scratchings* and rustlings, first on one side, and 
then on the other, were heard daily and nightly. Sometimes 
this unseen agent seemed to be knocking to a certain tune, and 
if a question were addressed to it which could be answered 
numerically, as, ‘How many people there are in this room?’ for 
example, it would answer by so many knocks. The beds, too, 
were occasionally heaved up, as if somebody were underneath* 
and where the blockings were, the wall trembled visibly, but, 
search as they would, no one could be found. Captain Moles- 
worth had had two daughters, one of whom, named Matilda, 
had lately died; the other, a girl between twelve and thirteen, 
called Jane, was sickly, and generally kept her bed; and, as it 
was observed that, wherever she was, these noises most fre- 
quently prevailed, Mr. Webster, who did not like the mala 
fatna that was attaching itself to his house, declared that she 
made them, whilst the people in the neighbourhood believed 
that it was the ghost of Matilda, warning her sister that she 
was soon to follow. Sheriff’s officers, masons, justices of peace, 
and the officers of the regiment quartered at Leith, who were 
friends of Captain M., all came to his aid, in hopes of detecting 
or frightening away his tormentor, but in vain. Sometimes it 
was said to be a trick of somebody outside the house, and then 
they formed a cordon round it; and next, as the poor sick girl 
was suspected, they tied her up in a bag, but it was all to no 
purpose. 

At length, ill and wearied out by the annoyances and the 
anxieties attending the affair. Captain M. quitted the house, 
and Mr. W. brought an action against him for the damages 
committed, by lifting the boards, breaking the walls, and firing 
at the wainscot, as well as for the injury done to his house by 
saying it was haunted, which prevented other tenants taking it. 

The poor young lady died, hastened out of the world, it is 
said, by the severe measures used whilst she was under sus- 
picion; and the persons that have since inhabited the house 
have experienced no repetition of the annoyance. 

318 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

The maimer in which these strange persecutions attach 
themselves to certain persons and places seems somewhat 
analogous to another class of cases, which bear a great similar- 
ity to what was formerly called possession', and I must here ob- 
serve, that many German physicians maintain, that to this day 
instances of genuine possession occur, and there are several 
works published in their language on the subject; and for this 
malady they consider magnetism the only remedy, all others 
being worse than useless. Indeed, they look upon possession 
itself as a demono-magnetic state, in which the patient is in 
rapport with mischievous or evil spirits; as in the Agatho (or 
good) magnetic state, which is the opposite pole, he is in 
rapport with good ones; and they particularly warn their 
readers against confounding this infli ction with cases of 
epilepsy or mania. They assert, that although instances are 
comparatively rare, both sexes and all ages are equally subject 
to this misfortune; and that it is quite an error to suppose, 
either, that it has ceased since the Resurrection of Christ, or 
that the expression used in the Scriptures ‘possessed by a 
devil’, meant merely insanity or convulsions. This disease^ 
which is not contagious, was well-known to the Greeks; and in 
later times Hofinan has recorded several well-established 
instances. Amongst the distinguishing symptoms, they reckon 
the patient’s speaking in a voice that is not his own, frightful 
convulsions and motions of the body, which arise suddenly, 
without any previous indisposition — blasphemous and ob- 
scene talk, a knowledge of what is secret, and of the future — a 
vomiting of extraordinary things, such as hair, stones, pins, 
needles, etc., etc. I need scarcely observe that this opinion is 
not universal in Germany; still it obtains amongst many who 
have had considerable opportunities for observation. 

Dr. Bardili had a case in the year 1830, which he considered 
decidedly to be one of possession. The patient was a peasant 
woman, aged thirty-four, who never had any sickness what- 
ever; and the whole of whose bodily functions continued per- 
fectly regular whilst she exhibited the following strange 
phenomena. I must observe that she was happily married, had 
three children, was not a fanatic, and bore an excellent charac- 
ter for regularity and industry, when, without any warning or 

319 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

perceptible cause, she was seized with the most extraordinary 
convulsions, whilst a strange voice proceeded from her, which 
assumed to be that of an unblessed spirit, who had formerly 
inhabited a human form. Whilst these fits were on her, she 
entirely lost her own individuality, and became this person; on 
returning to herself, her understanding and character were as 
entire as before. The blasphemy and cursing and barking and 
screeching, were dreadful. She was wounded and injured 
severely by the violent falls and blows she gave herself; and 
when she had an intermission, she could do nothing but weep 
over what they told her had passed, and the state in which she 
saw herself. She was moreover reduced to a skeleton; for when 
she wanted to eat, the spoon was turned round in her hand, 
and she often fasted for days together. This affliction lasted for 
three years; all remedies failed, and the only alleviation she 
obtained was by the continued and earnest prayers of those 
about her and her own; for although this demon did not like 
prayers, and violently opposed her kneelin g down, even 
forcing her to outrageous fits of laughter, still they had a power 
over him. It is remarkable that pregnancy, confinement, and 
the nursing her child, made not the least difference in this 
woman’s condition. All went on regularly, but the demon kept 
his post. At length, being magnetized, the patient fell into a 
partially somnambulic state, in which another voice was heard 
to proceed from her, being that of her protecting spirit, which 
encouraged her to patience and hope, and promised that the 
evil guest would be obliged to vacate his quarters. She often 
now fell into a magnetic state without the aid of a magnetizer. 
At the end of three years she was entirely relieved, and as well 
as ever. 

In the case of Rosina Wildin, aged ten years, which occurred 
at Pleidelsheim, in 1834, the demon used to announce himself 
by crying out ‘Here I am again!’ Whereupon the weak ex- 
hausted child, who had been lying like one dead, would rage 
and storm in a voice like a man’s, perform the most extra- 
ordinary movements and feats of violence and strength, till he 
would cry out, ‘Now I must be off again!’ This spirit spoke 
generally in the plural number, for he said, she had another 
beside himself, a dumb devil, who plagued her most. ‘He it is 

320 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

that twirls her round and round, distorts her features, turns 
her eyes, locks her teeth, etc. What he bids me, I must do!’ 
This child was at length cured by magnetism. 

Barbara Rieger, of Steinbach, aged ten, in 1834, was pos- 
sessed by two spirits, who spoke in two distinctly different 
male voices and dialects; one said he had formerly been a 
mason, the other gave himself out for a deceased provisor; the 
latter of whom was much the worst of the two. When they 
spoke, the child closed her eyes, and when she opened them 
again, she knew nothing of what they had said. The mason 
confessed to have been a great sinner, but the provisor was 
proud and hardened, and would confess nothing. They often 
commanded food, and made her eat it, which when she re- 
covered her individuality, she felt no thing of, but was very 
hungry. The mason was very fond of brandy, and drank a great 
deal; and if not brought when he ordered it, his raging and 
storming was dreadful. In her own individuality, the child had 
the greatest aversion to this liquor. They treated her for worms 
and other disorders, without the least effect; till at length, by 
magnetism, the mason was cast out. The provisor was more 
tenacious, but, finally, they got rid of him, too, and the girl 
remained quite well. 

In 1835, a respectable citizen, whose full name is not given, 
was brought to Dr. Kemer. He was aged thirty-seven, and till 
the last seven years had been unexceptionable in conduct and 
character. An unaccountable change had, however, come over 
him in his thirtieth year, which made his family very unhappy; 
and at length one day, a strange voice suddenly spoke out of 
him, saying, that he was the late magistrate, S., and that he had 
been in him for six years. When this spirit was driven out, by 
magnetism, the man fell to the earth, and was almost tom to 
pieces by the violence of the struggle; he then lay for a space 
as if dead, and arose quite well and free. 

In another case, a young woman, at Gruppenbach was quite 
in her senses, and heard the voice of her demon (who was also 
a deceased person) speak out of her, without having any power 
to suppress it. 

In short, instances of this description seem by no means 
rare; and if such a phenomenon as possession ever did exist, 

x 321 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
I do not see what right we have to assert that it exists no longer, 
since, in fact, we know nothing about it; only, that being 
determined to admit nothing so contrary to the ideas of the 
present day, we set out by deciding that the thing is im- 
possible. 

Since these cases occur in other countries, no doubt they 
must do so in this; and, indeed, I have met with one instance 
much more remarkable in its details than any of those above- 
mentioned, which occurred at Bishopwearmouth, near Sunder- 
land, in the year 1840; and as the particulars in this case have 
been published and attested by two physicians and two sur- 
geons, not to mention the evidence of numerous other persons, 
I think we are bound to accept the facts, whatever interpreta- 
tion we may choose to put upon them. 

The patient, named Mary Jobson, was between twelve and 
thirteen years of age; her parents, respectable people in humble 
life, and herself an attendant on a Sunday school. She became 
ill in November, 1839, and was soon afterwards seized with 
terrific fits, which continued, at intervals, for eleven weeks. 
It was during this period that the family first observed a 
strange knocking, which they could not account for. It was 
sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; and even 
about the bed when the girl lay in a quiet sleep, with her hands 
folded outside the clothes. They next heard a strange voice, 
which told them circumstances they did not know, but which 
they afterwards found to be correct. Then there was a noise 
like the clashing of arms, and such a rumbling that the tenant 
below thought the house was coming down; footsteps where 
nobody was to be seen, water falling on the floor, no one knew 
whence, locked doors opened, and above all sounds of ineffably 
sweet music. The doctors and the father were suspicious, and 
every precaution was taken, but no solution of the mystery 
could be found. This spirit, however, was a good one, and it 
preached to them, and gave them a great deal of good advice. 
Many persons went to witness this strange phenomenon, and 
some were desired to go by the voice, when in their own homes. 
Thus Elizabeth Gauntlett, whilst attending to some domestic 
affairs at home, was startled by hearing a voice say, ‘Be thou 
faithful, and thou shalt see the works of thy God, and shah 

322 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

hear with thine ears!’ She cried out, ‘My God! what can this 
be!’ and presently she saw a large white doud near hear. On 
the same evening, the voice said to her, ‘Mary Jobson, one of 
your scholars, is sick; go and see her; and it will be good for 
you.’ This person did not know where the child lived; but 
having inquired the address, she went: and at the door she 
heard the same voice bid her go up. On entering the room, she 
heard another voice, soft and beautiful, which bade her be 
faithful, and said, ‘I am the Virgin Mary.’ This voice promised 
her a sign at home; and accordingly that night, whilst reading 
the Bible, she heard it say, ‘Jemima, be not afraid; it is I: if you 
keep my commandments, it shall be well with you.’ When she 
repeated her visit, the same things occurred, and she heard the 
most exquisite music. 

The same sort of phenomena were witnessed by everybody 
who went— the immoral were rebuked, the good encouraged. 
Some were bidden instantly depart, and were forced to go. 
The voices of several deceased persons of the family were also 
heard, and made revelations. 

Once the voice said, ‘Look up, and you shall see the sun, 
and moon on the ceiling!’ and immediately there appeared a 
beautiful representation of these planets in lively colours, viz., 
green, yellow and orange. Moreover, these figures were per- 
manent; but the father, who was a long time sceptical, insisted 
on whitewashing them over; however, they still remained 
visible. 

Amongst other things, the voice said that though the child 
appeared to suffer, that she did not; that she did not know, 
where her body was, and that her own spirit had left it and 
another had entered; and that her body was made a speaking- 
trumpet. The voice told the family and visitors many things 
of their distant friends, which proved true. 

The girl twice saw a divine form standing by her bedside 
who spoke to her, and Joseph Ragg, one of the persons who 
had been invited by the voice to go, saw a beautiful and 
heavenly figure come to his bedside, about eleven o’clock at 
night, on the 17th January. It was in male attire, surrounded 
by a radiance; it came a second time on the same night. On 
each occasion it opened his curtains and looked at him 

323 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
benignantly, remaining about a quarter of an hour. When it 
went away, the curtains fell back in their former position. One 
day, whilst in the sick child’s room, Margaret Watson saw a 
lamb, which passed through the door and entered a place 
where the father, John Jobson, was; but he did not see it. 

One of the most remarkable features in this case is the 
beautiful music which was heard by all parties, as well as the 
family, including the unbelieving father, and, indeed, it seems 
to have been, in a great degree, this that converted him at last. 
This music was heard repeatedly during a space of sixteen 
weeks; sometimes it was like an organ, but more beautiful; at 
others, there was singing of holy songs, in parts, and the words 
distinctly heard. The sudden appearance of water in the room, 
too, was most unaccountable; for they felt it and it was really 
water. When the voice desired that water should be sprinkled, 
it immediately appeared as if sprinkled. At another time a sign 
being promised to the sceptical father, water would suddenly 
appear on the floor; this happened ‘not once, but twenty 
times’. 

During the whole course of this affair the voices told them 
that there was a miracle to be wrought on this child; and accord- 
ingly, on the 22nd of June, when she was as ill as ever, and 
they were only praying for her death, at five o’clock the voice 
ordered that her clothes should be laid out, and that everybody 
should leave the room, except the infant, which was two years 
and a half old. They obeyed; and having been outside the door 
a quarter of an hour, the voice cried, ‘Come in!’ and when they 
entered they saw the girl completely dressed and quite well, 
sitting in a chair with the infant on her knee, and she had not 
an hour’s illness from that time till the report was published, 
which was on the 30th of January, 1841 . 

Now, it is very easy to laugh at all this, and assert that these 
things never happened, because they are absurd and im- 
possible; but whilst honest, well-meaning, and intelligent 
people, who were on the spot, assert that they did, I confess I 
find myself constrained to believe them, however much I find 
in the case which is discrepant with my notions. It was not an 
affair of a day or an hour; there was ample time for observa- 
tion, for the phenomena continued from the 9th of February 

324 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

to the 22nd of June; and the determined unbelief of the father, 
with regard to the possibility of spiritual appearances, inso- 
much that he ultimately expressed great regret for the harsh- 
ness he had used — is a tolerable security against imposition. 
Moreover, they pertinaciously refused to receive any money or 
assistance whatever, and were more likely to suffer in public 
opinion than otherwise by the avowal of these circumstances. 

Dr. Reid Clanny, who publishes the report, with the attesta- 
tions of the witnesses, is a physician of many years’ experience, 
and is also, I believe, the original inventor of the safety lamp; 
and he declares his entire conviction of the facts, assuring his 
readers that ‘many persons holding high rank in the Estab- 
lished Church, ministers of other deno min ations, as well as 
many lay-members of society, highly respected for learning 
and piety, are equally satisfied’. When he first saw the child 
lying on her back, apparently insensible, with her eyes suffused 
with florid blood, he felt assured that she had a disease of the 
brain; and he was not in the least disposed to believe in the 
mysterious part of the affair, till subsequent investigation com- 
pelled him to do so; and that his belief is of a very decided 
character we may feel assured, when he is content to submit 
to all the obloquy he must incur by avowing it . 1 

He adds, that since the girl has been quite well, both her 
family and that of Joseph Ragg have frequently heard the same 
heavenly music as they did during her illness; and a Air. Tor- 
bock, a surgeon, who expresses himself satisfied of the truth of 
the above particulars, also mentions another case, in which he 
as well as a dying person he was attending, heard divine music 
just before the dissolution. 

Of this last phenomenon, namely, sounds as of heavenly 
music being heard when a death is occurring, I have met with 
numerous instances. 

From investigation of the above case, Dr. Clanny has arrived 
at the conviction that the spiritual world do occasionally 
identify themselves with our affairs, and Dr. Drury asserts, 
that besides this instance he has met with another circumstance 
which has left him firmly convinced that we live in a world of 

1 Dr. Clanny informs me that Mary Jobson is now a very well 
educated and extremely respectable young woman. 

325 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 

spirits, and that he has been in the presence of an unearthly 
being, who had ‘passed that bourne from which, it is said, no 
traveller returns ’. 1 

But the most extraordinary case I have yet met with is the 
following; because it is one which cannot by any possibility be 
attributed to disease or illusion. It is furnished to me from the 
most undoubted authority, and I give it as I received it, with 
the omission of the names. I have indeed in this instance 
thought it right to change the initial, and substitute G. for the 
right one, the particulars being of a nature which demand 
delicacy, as regards the parties concerned: 

‘Mrs. S. C. Hall, in early life, was intimately acquainted 
with a family named G., one of whom, Richard G., a young 
officer in the army, was subject to a harassing visitation of a 
kind that is usually regarded as supernatural. Mrs. H. once 
proposed to pay a visit to her particular friend, Catherine G., 
but was told that it would not be convenient exacdy at that 
time, as Richard was on the point of coming home. She 
thought the inconveniences consisted in the want of a bed- 
room and spoke of sleeping with Miss G., and found that the 
objection really lay in the fact of Richard being ‘haunted’, 
which rendered it impossible for anybody else to be comfort- 
able in the same house with him. A few weeks after Richard’s 
return, Mrs. H. heard of Mrs. G.’s being extremely ill; and 
found, on going to call, that it was owing to nothing but the 
distress the old lady suffered in consequence of the strange 
circumstance connected with her son. It appeared that Richard 
wherever he was, at home, in camp, in lodgings, abroad, or in 
his own country, was liable to be visited in his bedroom at 
night by certain extraordinary noises. Any light he kept in the 
room was sure to be put out. Something went beating about 
the walls and his bed, making a great noise, and often s niffing 
dose to his face, but never becoming visible. If a cage-bird 
was in his room, it was certain to be found dead in the mornin g . 
If he kept a dog in the apartment, it would make away from 
him as soon as released, and never come near him again. His 
brother, even his mother, had slept in the room; but the visita- 
tion took place as usual. According to Miss G.’s report, she and 
1 Alluding, I conclude, to the affair at Willington. 

326 



THE POLTERGEIST OF THE GERMANS 
other members of the family would listen at the bedroom door 
after Richard had gone to sleep, and would hear the noises 
commence, and they would then hear him sit up and express 
his vexation by a few military execrations. The young man, at 
length, was obliged by this pest to quit the army, and go upon 
half-pay. Under its influence he became a sort of Cain; for 
wherever he lived, the annoyance was so great that he was 
quickly obliged to remove. Mrs. H. heard of him being 
ultimately gone to settle in Ireland, where, however, according 
to the report of a brother whom she met about four years ago, 
the visitation which afflicted him in his early years, was in no 
degree abated.’ 

This cannot be called a case of possession, but seems to be 
one of rapport, which attaches this invisible tormentor to his 
victim. 



327 


* 


7. POLTERGEISTS IN IRELAND 
AND ELSEWHERE 


Report on the Emdscorthy, Derrygormelly and other Pol- 
tergeist Cases , by Sir William Barrett , F.R.S., reprinted 
from Vol. XXV of the Proceedings of the Society for 
Psychical Research 


The term ‘Poltergeist’ is translated Hobgoblin in our Ger- 
man dictionaries, but that is not the equivalent nor have we 
any English equivalent to the German word. It is derived from 
potter, a rumbling noise, or poltem, to make a row, to rattle; a 
polterer is a boisterous fellow, & poltergeist therefore a boister- 
ous ghost. It is a convenient term to describe those apparently 
meaningless noises, disturbances and movements of objects, 
for which we can discover no assignable cause. 

The phenomena are especially sporadic, breaking out sud- 
denly and unexpectedly, and disappearing as suddenly after a 
few days, or weeks, or months of annoyance to those con- 
cerned. They differ from hauntings, inasmuch as they appear 
to be attached to an individual, usually a young person, more 
than to a place, or rather to a person in a particular place. 
Moreover, ghostly forms (except, if we may trust one or two 
witnesses, a hand and arm) are not seen. They appear to have 
some intelligence behind them, for they frequently respond to 
requests made for a given number of raps; the intelligence is 
therefore in some way related to our intelligence, and more- 
over is occasionally in telepathic rapport with our minds. 
For in one case, which I submitted to a long and searching 
enquiry, I found that when I mentally asked for a given num- 
ber of raps, no word being spoken, the response was given 
promptly and correctly, and this four times in succession, a 

328 





THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 
different number being silently asked for in each case. There 
are other characteristics which bring the subject of polter- 
geists into close connection with the physical phenomena of 
spiritualism. The movement of objects is usually quite unlik e 
that due to gravitational or other attraction. They slide about, 
rise in the air, move in eccentric paths, sometimes in a lei- 
surely m a nn er, often turn round in their career, and usually 
descend quietly without hurting the observers. At other times 
an immense weight is lifted, often in daylight, no one being 
near, crockery is thrown about and broken, bedclothes are 
dragged off, the occupants sometimes lifted gently to the 
ground, and the bedstead tilted up or dragged about the room. 
The phenomena occur both in broad daylight and at ni ght 
Sometimes bells are continuously rung, even if all the bell 
wires are removed. Stones are frequently thrown, but no one 
is hurt; I myself have seen a large pebble drop apparently 
from space in a room where the only culprit could have been 
myself, and certainly I did not throw it. Loud scratchings on 
bedclothes, walls and furniture are a frequent characteristic; 
sometimes a sound like whispering or panting is heard, and 
footsteps are often heard without any visible cause. More 
frequently than otherwise the disturbances are associated with 
the presence of children or young people, and cease when they 
are taken from the place where the disturbance originated, only 
to be renewed on their return, and then abruptly the annoy- 
ance ends. 

If upon the cessation of the disturbances, investigators 
appear on the scene and ask for something to occur in their 
presence, and are sufficiently persistent and incredulous, they 
may possibly see a clumsy attempt to reproduce some of the 
phenomena, and will thereupon catch the culprit child in the 
act. Then we hear the customary ‘I told you so’, and forthwith 
the clever investigator will not fail to let the world know of 
his acumen, and how credulous and stupid everybody is but 
himself. I will return later on to the psychological cause of this 
not infrequent simulation of mysterious phenomena, especially 
by children. 

The point to which I am anxious to draw attention is the 
essentially temporary and fugitive nature of the phenomena, 

329 



THE ENNIS CORTHY CASE 

and that if we are fortunate enough to hear of them at once, 
and are able to visit the place whilst the disturbances are going 
on, the presence of the most skilful and incredulous observer 
will not affect the result — and under such circumstances I 
challenge the scornful to produce a single adverse witness. In 
fact, to any one who has made a serious and prolonged study 
of the subject of poltergeists, it is simply waste of time to reply 
to the arguments of those who assert that fraud and hallucina- 
tion are adequate explanations of the whole phenomena. 


THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 

The first case I will relate has recently occurred at Ennis- 
corthy, a town in Co. Wexford. My attention was drawn to the 
matter through a letter from the representative of a local news- 
paper, Mr. Murphy. After some correspondence, and in 
answer to my request, Mr. Murphy kindly drew up the 
accompanying admirable report: 

STATEMENT BY MR. N. J. MURPHY 

The strange manifestations which took place at Enniscorthy 
last July, 1910, may perhaps interest some students of Psycho- 
logy, and more particularly the members of the Dublin Section 
of the Society for Psychical Research. 

At the outset let me say that I am a journalist by profession 
and in pursuit of ‘copy* for the paper I represent. The Ennis- 
corthy Guardian , I was brought into touch with those con- 
cerned in the manifestations, and introduced to the room where 
these manifestations occurred. 

The ‘haunted’ house was one in which a labouring man 
named Nicholas Redmond and his wife resided in Court 
Street, Enniscorthy. Redmond’s earnings were supplemented 
by his wife keeping boarders. On the ground floor of the house 
are two rooms — a shop and a kitchen. Both are lofty and spa- 
cious, and the latter is situated under the room in which the 
manifestations occurred. The upstairs portion of the premises 
consists of three bedrooms. The floors of these bedrooms are of 
wood, and are all intact, the house being a comparatively newone. 

330 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 

Two of the bedrooms look out on the street, and the third, in 
which the occurrences took place, is situate at the back of these. 
All three are entered from the same landing and are on the 
same level. Redmond and his wife slept in the front room im- 
mediately adjoining the room in which the occurrences 
described below took place. The rear bedroom was occupied 
by two young men who were boarders. They had separate 
beds. Their names are John Randall, a native of Killurin, in 
this county, and George Sinnott, of Ballyhogue, in this county. 
Both these men are carpenters by trade. I can bear personal 
testimony to the occurrences which I am about to describe. 
I accepted nothing on hearsay evidence, and I place my ex- 
periences before your Society exactly as the circ umstan ces 
occurred to me. Many of the details have already been pub- 
lished in the daily papers, and are quite true, much of what 
appeared having been written by myself. 

Hearing strange rumours about the house, I proceeded to 
make enquiries. The owner of the house replied to my ques- 
tions that the rumours I had heard of the house were quite 
true, and in response to my application for permission to 
remain all night in the ‘haunted’ room, he replied: ‘I will make 
you as comfortable as I can, and you can remain as long as 
you want to, and bring a friend with you, too, because you will 
feel more comfortable.’ My next move was to procure a 
volunteer to accompany me, who was found in the person of 
Mr. Owen Devereux, of the ‘Devereux’ Cycle Works, Ennis- 
corthy. Together we went to the house on the night of the 
29th July, 19x0, and immediately proceeded to make a tour of 
inspection. Sinnott, Randall and the owner of the house having 
gone out of the room for a few moments, we made , a dose 
inspection of the apartment. The beds were pulled out from 
the walls and examined, the clothing being searched; the floor- 
ing was minutely inspected, and the walls and fireplace exam- 
ined. Every thing was found quite normal. Sinnott’s bed was 
placed with the head at the window. The window faced the 
door as one entered the room. Randall’s bed was placed at the 
opposite end of the room at right angles to Sinnott’s, and with 
the foot to the door. The two boys prepared to retire, Mrs. 
Redmond having placed two chairs in their bedroom for the 

331 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 
use of the narrator and his companion. The occupants of the 
room having been comfortably disposed of— each in his own 
bed and chair respectively — the light was extinguished. This 
was about 11.20 p.m. 

The night was a clear, starlight night. No blind obstructed 
the view from outside, and one could see the outlines of the 
beds and their occupants clearly. At about 11.30 a tapping was 
heard dose at the foot of Randall’s bed. My companion re- 
marked that it appeared to be like the noise of a rat eating at 
timber. Sinnott replied, ‘You’ll soon see the rat it is.’ The 
tapping went on slowly at first, say at about the rate of fifty 
taps to the minute. Then the speed gradually increased to 
about 100 or 120 per minute, the noise growing louder. This 
continued for about five minu tes, when it stopped suddenly. 
Randall then spoke. He said: ‘The clothes are slipping off my 
bed: look at them sliding off. Good God! they are going off me.’ 
Mr. Devereux immediately struck a match which he had ready 
in his hand. The bedclothes had partly left the boy’s bed, 
having gone diagonally towards the foot, going out at the left 
comer, and not alone did they seem to be drawn off the bed, 
but they appeared to be actually going back under the bed 
much in the same position one would expect bedclothes to be 
if a strong breeze were blowing through the room at the time. 
But then everything was perfectly calm. 

Mr. Devereux lighted the candle and a thorough search was 
made under the bed for strings or wires, but nothing could be 
found. Randall, who stated that this sort of thing had occurred 
to him on previous nights, appeared very much frightened. I 
adjusted the clothing again properly on the bed and Randall 
lay down. The candle was again extinguished. After about ten 
minutes the rapping recommenced. First slowly, as before. 
It again increased in speed and volume, and after about the 
same interval of time it again stopped. When the clothes were 
going in under the bed on the first occasion, Sinnott sat up ip 
bed and said: ‘Oh God! look at the clothes going in under the 
bed.’ He also appeared very nervous. The rapping having 
stopped on the second occasion, Randall’s voice again broke 
the silence. ‘They are going again,’ he cried; ‘the clothes are 
leaving me again.’ I said, ‘Hold them and do not let them go: 

332 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 

you only imagine they are going.’ He said: ‘I cannot hold them; 
they are going, and I am going with them; there is something 
pushing me from inside: I am going, I am going; I’m gone.’ 
My companion struck a light just in time to see Randall slide 
from the bed, the sheet under him, and the sheets, blankets and 
coverlet over him. He lay on his back on the floor. The move- 
ment of his coming out of bed was gentle and regular. There 
did not appear to be any jerking motion. Whilst he lay on the 
floor, Randall’s face was bathed in perspiration, which rolled 
off him in great drops. He was much agitated and trembled in 
every limb. His terribly frightened condition, especially the 
beads of perspiration on his face, precludes any supposition 
that he was privy to any human agency being employed to 
effect the manifestations. Sinnott again sat up in bed, and 
appeared terrified also. Mr. Redmond, hearing the commotion, 
came into the room at this time. Randall said: £ Oh, isn’t this 
dreadful? I can’t stand it; I can’t stay any longer here.’ We 
took him from the floor and persuaded him to re-enter the bed 
again. He did so, and we adjusted the bedclothes. 

It was now about midnight. The owner of the house re- 
turned to his own room, and we remained watc hing until about 
1.45, and during that time nothing further occurred. Red- 
mond returned then to see how we were getting on, and took a 
seat by my side in Randall’s bedroom. The three of us having 
sat there for about five minutes, the rapping again commenced, 
this time in a different part of the room. Instead of being near 
the foot of Randall’s bed as heretofore, I located it about the 
middle of the room at a place about equally distant from each 
bed. It went on for about fifteen minutes, and then ceased. 
It was at this time fairly bright, the dawn having appeared in 
the eastern sky. Randall was not interfered with any further 
that night, and we remained watching rill close on three 
o’clock, and no thing further having occurred we left the house. 

On the following night I remained in that room from eleven 
o’clock till long past midnight. Neither Randall nor Sinnott 
were there, having gone home to the country for the usual 
week-end. I heard or saw nothing unusual. 

Randall could not reach that part of the floor from which the 
rapping came on any occasion without attracting my attention 

333 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 

and that of my comrade. I give up .the attempt to explain away 
the strange manifestations. I hope some member of the 
Society may be able to do so. 

Nicholas J. Murphy 

i George Street, Enmscorthy, 

August 4th, igio 

I have read the foregoing, and I corroborate the statements 
therein. 

Owen Devereux 

August 4th, igio 

In reply to my enquiry whether any further disturbances 
had since occurred, and that in any case I should wish to make 
a personal investigation of the matter, I received the following 
letter from Mr. Murphy: 

Enmscorthy, November n, igio 

Dear Sir, 

In reply to yours, I beg to say that the house in which the 
phenomena occurred is now vacant. The tenant, Mr. Red- 
mond, and his wife, left Enniscorthy about the middle of 
August. Randall left the house on the Monday evening after 
the occurrence described took place. Nothing unusual was ever 
seen or heard in the house until Randall went to lodge there. 
However, I should be very glad to see you in Enniscorthy. 
Randall and Sinnott are in the town, and you can question them. 
Mr. Devereux and myself are always at your service, and we 
have no objection to our names and addresses being published. 

Yours faithfully, 

N. J. Murphy 

I was not able to visit Enniscorthy until a few weeks later, 
when I spent a day examining the witnesses and the house 
where the disturbances occurred. The following notes written 
at the time give the result of my enquiry: 

On Tuesday, December 6th, 1910 , 1 visited Enniscorthy, and 
saw and closely questioned the eye-witnesses mentioned in 
Mr. Murphy’s paper, with the exception of Sinnott and Red- 
mond, who were away. I also saw the servant who slept in a 
small room adjoining the one in which the disturbances 

334 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 
occurred. She scouted the idea of the boys playing tricks, and 
added an important fact, viz. that the large iron bed in which 
Sinnott slept along with another lodger had lost one of its 
castors; nevertheless, it was dragged across the room with the 
two young men in it, leaving a mark along the floor where the 
iron leg had scraped along. The bed, she told me, was so 
heavy that, even with no one in it, she had to get assistance 
when moving it. She was terribly scared by the disturbances, 
and left the place as soon as she could. I begged her to write 
down what she had observed, and Mr. Murphy sent me her 
statement, which follows. 

I then visited the house where the disturbances took place. 
It was empty and unfurnished, and in the hands of the 
painters. The descriptions given by Mr. Murphy and by 
Randall are quite correct. 

I had a long interview with Randall and he impressed me 
very favourably; an intelligent, straightforward youth about 
eighteen years old. He undertook to write down a detailed 
account of what had occurred during the time he lodged with 
Redmond. This he did, and his statement is annexed. Randall 
is a Protestant, and I saw the rector of his parish, who knew 
the young man well and testified to his good character and 
trustworthiness. His letter to me is given later on. 

I saw Mr. Devereux, the companion whom Mr. Murphy 
took with him. He owns a cycle shop in Enniscorthy, and is a 
skilled mechanic, an excellent witness. He corroborated Mr. 
Murphy’s statement, and said he went to the house feeling sure 
he would be able to discover that one or other of the lads was 
playing a practical joke. But he was unable to unravel the 
mystery. He said that what occurred in his presence could not 
possibly have been done by Randall or his companion. I also 
had an interview with the previous occupant of the house. 
Nothing had occurred in his time. 

STATEMENT OF BRIDGET THORPE 

I was a servant in the house of Mr. Nicholas Redmond, 
8 Court Street, Ennis corthy. I remember John Randall coming 
to lodge there. It was on a Monday night he first came. On the 

335 



the enniscorthy case 

following Friday morning I heard John Randall and George 
Sinnott, another lodger, talking about the clothes being pulled 
off the bed. On Friday night I heard the bed running about 
the floor in Randall’s room. I was then in my own room. On 
the next morning I heard John Randall say that he would not 
sleep in the house any more. I remember going into Randall’s 
room one night with Mr. Redmond as we heard noises; and 
when we went in Richard Roche, another lodger, who was 
there that nighty was in one bed and John Randall in another. 
The bedclothes were all pulled through the bars at the foot of 
Roche’s bed. Roche was very much frightened. I frequently 
heard rapping in Randall’s room. I always thought it came 
from the comer of Randall’s room nearest to Mr. Redmond’s 
room. On the night that Mr. Murphy and Mr. Devereux were 
there I heard footsteps walking about the lobby outside the 
door where they ware. I often heard these footsteps. The night 
I heard the bed running about the floor, the floor shook as if a 
very strong man was pulling the bed around. 

(Signed) B. Thorpe 
Witnessed by N. J. Murphy 

It will be noticed that Randall mentions two companions in 
the bedroom with him. This was for a short time the case, but 
one of them had left when Mr. Murphy visited the house. 

STATEMENT WRITTEN BY J. W. RANDALL 

On Saturday, the 2nd of July, 1910, I came to work in 
Enniscorthy as an improver in the carpentry trade. Monday, I 
went to lodge in a house in Court Street. There were two other 
men Stopping in the same house as lodgers. They slept in the 
same room also, but shared a different bed at the other side of 
the room. My bed was in a recess in the wall at the opposite 
side. There was one large window in the room, which opened 
both top and bottom. The room was about 14 feet square and 
10 feet high. There was one door openin g into it. The window 
already described was in the back wall of the house nearly 
opposite the door opening into the room from the top landing. ' 
There were two other doors on the same landing opening into 
different rooms. There was also a fireplace in the room. 

336 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 

On Monday night, July 4th, we went to bed, and my first 
night in the strange house I think I slept pretty soundly. We 
got up at six o’clock the next morning and went to work. We 
left off work at six in the evening, and went to bed the same 
time as the night before, between 10 and 10.30 o’clock, slept 
soundly, and all went well, also on Wednesday. 

Went to bed on Thursday night at 10.45, the three of us 
going as before. We blew out the light, but the room was then 
fairly lightsome. We had been only about ten minutes in bed 
when I felt the clothes being gently drawn from my bed. I first 
thought it was the others that were playing a joke, so I called 
out, ‘Stop, George, it’s too cold.’ (George being one of their 
names and the other Richard.) Then I heard them say, ‘It’s 
Nick’ (that is the name of the man of the house). It wasn’t any 
of them that had pulled the clothes off me, so they thought it 
was Nick that was in the room, and did not mind. At this time 
the clothes had gone off my bed completely, and I shouted to 
them to strike a match. When they struck a match I found my 
bedclothes were at the window. The most curious part was that 
the same time when the clothes were leaving my bed, their 
bed was moving. I brought back the clothes and got into bed 
again. The light was then put out, and it wasn’t long until we 
heard some hammering in the room — tap-tap-tap-like. This 
lasted for a few minutes, getting quicker and quicker. When it 
got very quick their bed started to move out across the floor, 
and that made us very frightened, and what made us more 
frightened was the door being shut, and nobody could open it 
without making a great noise. They then struck a match and 
got the lamp. We searched the room thoroughly, and could 
find nobody. Nobody had come in the door. We called the man 
of the house (Redmond); he came into the room, saw the bed, 
and told us to push it back and get into bed (he thought all the 
time one of us was playing the trick on the other). I said I 
wouldn’t stay in the other bed by myself, so I got in with the 
others; we put out the light again, and it had been only a couple 
of minutes out when the bed ran out on the floor with the 
three of us. Richard struck a match again, and this time we all 
got up and put on our clothes; we had got a terrible fright and 
couldn’t stick it any longer. We told the man of the house we 

337 s - p - 


y 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 

would sit up in the room until daylight. During the time we were 
sitting in the room we could hear footsteps leaving the kitchen 
and coming up the stairs; it would stop on the landing outside 
the door and wouldn’t come into the room. The footsteps and 
noises continued through the house until daybreak. We got up 
at nine o’clock and went to work for a three-quarter day. 

That night (Friday) when we went to bed about eleven 
o’clock we felt a bit nervous in going. We put out the light, and 
in a few minutes the footsteps started again, and noises. There 
were also noises like chips getting chopped in the kitchen. This 
night passed over not near so bad as the night before, but yet 
we were afraid to go to sleep. 

Saturday we all went home for the Sunday, but returned 
Sunday evening. We went to bed Sunday night; as before, and 
it passed over with very slight noises. On Monday night the 
noises started again after going to bed, and about a quarter of 
an hour their bed ran again. They then struck a light and I got 
into the bed with them. There were terrible noises every- 
where; on the walls, out on the landing, and downstairs. We 
left the light lighted for some time, and whilst it was' lighted, 
what added more to our fright was a chair dancing out to the 
middle of the floor without a thing near it. We put out the 
light again after moving back the bed. Immediately the light 
was put out the bed ran again out on the floor. Richard had 
the matches always ready to strike. Every time we would hear 
the noise and feel the bed moving, we would shout: ‘Strike, 
Richard, strike; we’re going again!’ We were trembling from 
head to feet with fear. We left the light lighted till morning 
after that. 

Tuesday night passed over about the same, and on Wednes- 
day night there wasn’t a stir. After hearing nothing on Wed- 
nesday night we thought it had stopped, but still we felt 
nervous. On Thursday night it started as bad as the first night, 
and several people remarked it being so bad on the night 
exactly a week after it had started. The bed ran out several 
times, and what never happened to any one of us before, 
George was lifted out of bed without a hand near him. He 
went home next day, and stopped at home for two days. So 
while he was away, Richard and I stopped in the room. The 

338 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 


same noise still continued, and the bed ran also. We went 
home on Saturday as on the week before. 

George came back again on Sunday night, and slept in the 
same bed with us again, and it wasn’t extra bad that night. It 
went on about the same way every night until the following 
Friday night, when it was very bad. The bed turned up on one 
side, and threw us out on the floor, and before we were 
thrown out, the pillow was taken from under my head three 
times. When the bed rose up, it fell back without making any 
noise. This bed was so heavy, it took both the woman and girl 
to pull it out from the wall without anybody in it, and there 
was only three castors on it. After ’being thrown out of the big 
bed, the three of us got into my bed. We were not long in it 
when it started to rise, but could not get out of the recess it 
was in unless it was taken to pieces. It ceased about daybreak, 
and that finished that night’s performance. 

It kept very bad then for a few nights. So Mr. Murphy, from 
the Guardian office, and another man named Devereux, came 
and stopped in the room one night. They sat on two chairs in 
the room, while we lay each in our own beds. We were not long 
in bed when I felt a terrible feeling over me like a big weight. I 
then felt myself being taken from the bed, but could feel no 
hands, nor could I resist going. All I could say was: ‘I’m 
going, I’m going; they’re at me.’ I lay on the floor in a terrible 
state, and hardly able to speak. The perspiration was pouring 
through me. They put me back in bed again, and nothing more 
than strange knockings and noises happened between that and 
morning. We slept again in the room the next night, but 
nothing serious happened. We then got another lodging, and 
the people left it also. For the three weeks I was in the house 
I lost nearly three-quarters of a stone weight. I never believed 
in ghosts until that, and I think it would convince the bravest 


man in Ireland. 


John William Randall 


18 Main St., Enniscorthy 


I heard from Randall a few days ago (January 25th). Nothing 
has occurred in his new lodgings. The curious association of 
a particular person in a particular place at a particular time is 
very characteristic of all Poltergeist phenomena. 

339 



THE ENNISCORTHY CASE 


FROM THE REV. CANON RENNISON 

Kilpatrick Rectory , Wexford , 

Jan. 27, ign 

Dear Sir, 

I have known John Randall for the past five years, and I 
believe him to be a thoroughly truthful and trustworthy boy. I 
think you may rely on any particulars he has given you about 
the ‘haunted house* at Enniscorthy. He has always been a 
steady, well-conducted boy so far as I know. I am very glad to 
hear you are reading a paper pn the whole affair. 

Yours very truly, 

John Rennison 

My best thanks are due to Mr. N. J. Murphy, who kindly 
spared neither time nor trouble in assisting me in these 
enquiries. 


THE DERRYGONNELLY CASE 

I now pass on to another Irish case of which I heard soon 
after the disturbances broke out, and was able to visit the 
spot while the Poltergeist was still active, so that I was an eye- 
witness of many of the occurrences. I wrote a detailed account 
of what took place at the time, and it was published in the 
Dublin University Magazine for December 1877, under the 
title of ‘The Demons of Derrygonnelly’. No report of this case 
has yet appeared in our Proceedings, and I can only briefly 
summarize it here. 

In 1877 Mr. Thomas Plunkett of E nnis killen, a gentleman 
who has devoted much time to the geological and archaeo- 
logical investigation of the County Fermanagh, wrote to tell 
me of some mysterious disturbances occurring in a farmer’s 
cottage near some prehistoric limestone caves he was explor- 
ing, and asking me to visit the place, which I did. 

The place was a hamlet called Derrygonnelly, about nine 
miles from Enniskillen, and the cottage was some two miles 
further on. A more lonely spot could hardly be found in this 
country. Across the bog that lay before us rose the huge lime- 

340 



THE DERRYGONNELLY CASE 
stone cliffs of Knockmore, crowned by an escarpment of over- 
hanging rock. The cottage itself was hidden in the hollow of a 
field, and no other house could be seen anywhere. 

The household consisted of a grey-headed fanner who had 
recently lost his wife, afltd a family of four girls and one boy, 
the youngest about ten years of age, and the eldest, Maggie, 
round whom the disturbances arose, about twenty years old. 
The cottage had the usual large kitchen and dwelling-room, 
with earthen floors in the centre, and a smaller room opening 
from each side. In one of them Maggie and the girls slept on a 
large, old-fashioned four-post bed. The noises, rappings and 
scratches generally began after they had retired, and often 
continued the whole night through. Rats, of course, were first 
suspected; but when objects began to move without any 
visible cause, stones to fall, candles and boots repeatedly 
thrown out of the house, the rat theory was abandoned and a 
general terror took possession of the family . Several neigh- 
bours urged them to send for the priest, but they were 
Methodists, and their class leader advised them to lay an open 
Bible on the bed. This they did in the name of God, putting a 
big stone on the top of the volume; but the stone was lifted off 
by an unseen hand, and the Bible placed on top of it. After 
that ‘it 5 , as the farmer called the unseen cause, moved the 
Bible out of the room and tore seventeen pages right across. 
Then they could not keep a light in the house, candles and 
lamps were mysteriously stolen, or thrown out. They asked 
their neighbours’ help, and here I quote the old farmer’s 
words: ‘Jack Flanigan came and lent us his lamp saying he 
would engage the devil himself could not steal it, as he had 
got the priest to sprinkle it with holy water.’ ‘But that’, the old 
man said, ‘did us no good either, for the next day it took away 
that lamp also.’ They were forced to keep their candles in a 
neighbour’s house some way off, and fetch them at night, and 
keep them lighted. 

Dining the evenings I spent in the cottage, the farmer and 
each of his children were independently examined. He gave 
me a concordant account of the singular freaks of this polter- 
geist, and their vain efforts to put a stop to it. Those who are 
interested can read the story, told by the old man, which I took 

34i 



THE DERRYGONNELLY CASE 
down in writing, as it is published in full in my article already 
referred to. 

My own observations were as follows: after the children, 
except the boy, had gone to bed, Maggie lay down on the bed 
without undressing, so that her hands and feet could be ob- 
served. The rest of us sat round the kitchen fire, when faint 
raps, rapidly increasing in loudness, were heard, co ming 
apparently from the walls, the ceiling and various parts of the 
inner room, the door of which was open. On entering the bed- 
room with a light the noises at first ceased, but recommenced 
when I put the light on the window-sill in the kitchen. I had 
the boy and his father by my side, and asked Mr. Plunkett to 
look round the house outside. Standing in the doorway leading 
to the bedroom the noises recommenced, the light was gradu- 
ally brought nearer, and after much patience I was able to 
bring the light into the bedroom whilst the disturbances were 
still loudly going on. At last I was able to go up to the side of 
die bed, with the lighted candle in my hand, and closely ob- 
served each of the occupants lying on the bed. The younger 
children were apparently asleep, and Maggie was motionless; 
nevertheless, knocks were going on everywhere around; on the 
chairs, the bedstead, the walls and ceiling. The closest 
scrutiny failed to detect any movement on the part of those 
present that could account for the noises, which were accom- 
panied by a scratching or tearing sound. Suddenly a large 
pebble fell in my presence on to the bed; no one had moved 
to dislodge it even if it had been placed for the purpose. When 
I replaced the candle on the window-sill in the kitchen, the 
knocks became still louder, like those made by a heavy car- 
patter’s hammer driving nails into flooring. 

At midnight we drove back to Enniskillen, and next day I 
telegraphed to Dublin to an acute and careful observer, presi- 
dent of one of our learned societies, to come down to help me 
in the investigation. He kindly did so. It was the Rev. Maxwell 
Close, M.A., a man honoured in Dublin for his great learning, 
remarkable critical insight and singular sobriety of judgment , 1 

1 The Rev. Maxwell Close died a few years ago; he was one of the 
earliest members of the S.P.R.; an obituary notice of hitn by the 
present writer appeared in the Journal S.P.R. for November 1903. 

342 



THE DERRYGONNELLY CASE 

With him, a day or two later, we again drove over in the even- 
ing the eleven lonely miles to the farmer’s cottage. In spite of 
tiie vigilance of my friends, Mr. Close, Mr. Plunkett and my- 
self, we failed to detect the slightest attempt at imposture by 
any of the family, and we were each equally certain that we 
were not the victims of hallucination. The noises were heard as 
before; we searched within and without the cottage, but no 
cause could be found. 

The following night we made another visit with the same 
result. When we were about to leave some two hours later, 
the farmer was distressed that we had not ‘laid the ghost*, and 
I asked him what he thought it was. He replied: 

‘I would have thought, sir, it do be fairies, but than late 
readers and knowledgeable men will not allow such a thing, 
so I cannot tell what it is. I only wish, sir, you would take it 
away.’ 

‘Have you asked it to answer a question by raps?’ I asked. 

‘I have, sir,’ he said, ‘as some one told us to do, but it tells 
lies as often as truth, and oftener, I think. We tried it, and it 
only knocked at L M N when we said the alphabet over.’ I 
asked him if it would respond to a given number of raps, and 
he said it would. This it did in my presence. Then I mentally 
asked it, no word being spoken, to knock a certain number of 
times and it did so. To avoid any error or delusion on my part, 
I put my hands in the side pockets of my overcoat and asked 
it to knock the number of fingers I had open. It correctly did ' 
so. Then, with a different number of fingers open each time, 
the experiment was repeated four times in succession, and four 
times I obtained absolutely the correct number of raps. The 
doctrine of chances shows that casual coincidence is here 
practically out of the question, and the interesting fact remains 
that some telepathic rapport between the unseen agent and 
ourselves appears to exist, on this occasion at any rate. 

Before leaving— it was now past midnight— the farmer im- 
plored us not to go without ridding him of this pertinacious 
poltergeist. So I asked my clerical friend to read a few words 
of scripture and offer up a prayer. He did so, choosing 
appropriate passages from our Lord’s ministry to the possessed, 
and a suitable prayer. It was a weird scene, the children were 

343 



THE DERRYGONNELLY CASE 

in bed, but not asleep, in the inner room, the farmer and Mr. 
Plunkett seated by the kitchen fire, Mr. Close seated on a stool 
at the open bedroom door, I holding a lighted candle for him, 
and seated just within the bedroom. The noises were at first 
so great we could hardly hear what was read, then as tie 
solemn words of prayer were uttered they subsided, and when 
the Lord’s Prayer was joined in by all, a profound stillness fell 
on the whole cottage. The farmer rose from his knees with 
tears streaming from his eyes, gratefully grasped our hands, 
and we left for our long midnight drive back to Enniskillen. 

I am afraid this does not sound a very scientific account, but 
it is a veracious one. 

Subsequent correspondence, and reports from Mr. Plunkett, 
showed that the poltergeist had fled from that night onwards, 
until some curious visitors, after reading my published descrip- 
tion, had gone to the farmer’s cottage, and tried to bring it 
back again. It came, they said, feebly and furtively, but 
whether genuine or Maggie’s Irish desire to please the visitors, 
I have no means of knowing. The farmer is now dead, and 
Maggie, I believe, in service, but I have lost sight of them all. 

In both the preceding cases the disturbances took place at 
night, in the next two cases they occurred in the day chiefly. 
The reason appears to be that only when the living radiant 
point, or psychic, is in a particular place, and more or less at 
rest , do the disturbances break out. The boy Randall was away 
from his lodgings all day at work; the girl, Maggie, was largely 
engaged in farm work outside, as well as housework within, 
and some phenomena took place in the day time when she was 
in the hpuse, but were less marked until she went to bed. In 
the next case the psychic was evidently more powerful, a 
somnambulist and clairvoyant, and the disturbances arose 
when she was in the house, both in the daytime and at night. 
As in the case of dowsing, hypnosis, clairvoyance, telepathy 
and probably all psychical phenomena, the effect of education, 
the cultivation of the reasoning powers, alert consciousness, in 
fine, cerebral activity generally, usually diminish and ulti- 
mately inhibit the production of supernormal phenomena. 


344 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY CASE 


THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY CASE 

One of the most remarkable and carefully investigated cases 
of Poltergeists is recorded in the Atlantic Monthly ,* a leading 
American review, for August 1868. This case is so little 
known and so admirable that I will briefly summarize it. 

An Irish girl, 18 years old, named Mary Carrick, went to 
live as servant with a family in Massachusetts soon after her 
arrival in America. Six weeks after she came to the famil y, 
the house bells began violently ringing without any assignable 
cause. This would occur at intervals of half an hour through- 
out the day and evening. The wires were detached from all 
the bells, but the ringing still continued. The bells were hung 
near the ceiling of the room, 11 feet high. They only rang 
when the girl was in the room or in the adjo inin g one, and were 
seen to ring by the family without any visible cause. The 
ringing was not a mere stroke of one bell, but a violent agita- 
tion of all the hells. A careful ex amin ation made by the writer 
of the article, Mr. Willis, showed that no mechanism of any 
kind was attached to the bells. So far the case is like the well- 
known ‘Bealings Bells’ in Suffolk, described with great care by 
Major Moor, F.R.S., in 1834, a full account of which will be 
found in Dale Owen’s Debatable Land , p. 239 et seq. 

But more remarkable phenomena followed in the American 
case. Loud and startling raps occurred on the walls, door and 
windows of any room where the girl was at work, and followed 
the girl from room to room, and could be heard in her bed- 
room at night when she was apparently fast asleep. A little 
later, chairs were upset, crockery thrown down, tables lifted 
and moved, and various kitchen utensils hurled about the 
room. This was during July. In August a careful daily record 
was kept. The writer of the article states that he saw the table 
at which the girl had been ironing suddenly lifted when no 

1 Like other articles in the Atlantic Monthly, the name of the 
author, Mr. H. A. Willis, is not given in the text, but only in the 
Table of Contents. As the article was published 43 years ago, it is, I 
fear, hopeless to obtain any confirmatory evidence at the present day; 
but I have written to the Editor of the Atlantic Monthly with this 
object in view. As yet no further information has been obtained. 

345 



THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY CASE 

one was near enough to touch it. This also happened when a 
child was sitting on the table, and when the writer and other 
persons tried to hold the table down. 

On the 6th of August, as Mary was placing the tea tray on 
a heavy stone slab, i| inches thick, and weighing 48 lbs., the 
stone slab suddenly flew up, struck the tray and upset the 
dishes upon it. The writer states that this happened again in 
his own presence when we was carefully watching the girl, who 
was at the moment in the act of wringing out some clothes. 
The slab rose and fell back with such force that it broke in 
two, no one touchin g it. Soon after one-half of the slab was 
pitched on the ground and the fragments thrown about. 
Another day a large basket filled with clothes was thrown to the 
floor, a stool having on it a pail filled with water ran along the 
floor; a washtub filled with clothes was taken off its stand and 
flung to the ground, and the contents thrown about. 

The girl would often start in her sleep and scream in terror, 
the family watching the girl and hearing the violent noises. 

The result of all this disturbance greatly alarmed and excited 
the girl, who was ignorant and superstitious; it brought on a 
serious attack of hysteria, and she had to be taken to an 
asylum. All the noises ceased in her absence. At the end of 
three weeks she was sufficiently recovered to return to her 
work. None of the movements subsequently took place, but a 
month later she suffered from somnambulism. Many times 
when fast asleep she rose in the middle of the night; dressed her- 
self, and went about her work downstairs in the pitch darkness, 
even studying some lessons she was doing, and returned to bed 
in an hour or two. 

She was also clairvoyant, and one remarkable instance of 
this is given by the writer of the article. 

The report concludes by saying it may be justly asked why 
no scientific men were asked to investigate the phenomena 
during the ten weeks they lasted. To this the writer replies 
that whilst the phenomena were in full force, a statement of 
the facts was sent to a leading scientific man in America, with 
an earnest request that he would investigate and report. The re- 
quest was treated with absolute contempt; they were told that 
such things could not happen, and that it was all trickery. 

346 



THE PORTLAND, OREGON, CASE 

The writer of the article then tried some experiments him- 
self. He conceived that the sounds might possibly be electri- 
cally produced, and made some experiments to test this idea. 
When the bedstead on which the girl slept was insulated on 
glass nothing occurred, but when the insulators were removed 
the noises returned as violently as ever. A daily journal of the 
weather and of the disturbances was kept, expecting that the 
phenomena would be more frequent on dry clear days, but 
some of the most remarkable disturbances occurred on very 
rainy ones. With candour the writer therefore concludes that 
there is some difficulty in applying the electrical hypothesis. 

Electricity has to bear a good many sins on its head, but 
we may safely exonerate it from creating the Poltergeist pheno- 
mena. The insulation experiments, tried not only on the bed, 
but also on tables and chairs, certainly inhibited the disturb- 
ances, but this inhibition was more probably due to the effect 
of suggestion either on the girl or on her unseen tormentors. 
Psychic subjects are exceedingly suggestible, and this often 
lays them open to perpetrate fraudulent imitations, especially 
when the enquirer feels confident trickery is an adequate 
explanation of everything. 


THE PORTLAND, OREGON, CASE 

In the autumn of 1909 one of the leading newspapers on 
the Pacific coast published details of extraordinary disturb- 
ances and movement of objects which occurred in a house in 
Portland, Oregon. Subsequently an article on the subject 
appeared in the Pacific Monthly, an<rthe publicity thus given 
to the case led to its careful investigation by Dr. Gilbert and 
Mr. Thacher, two most competent investigators, who were 
requested by the American Society for Psychical Research to 
make a critical and full enquiry. The results of this enquiry 
are given in detail in the Journal of the American S.P.R. for 
September and November, 1910. 

The phenomena were associated with the presence of a boy 
named Elwin March, who, at the time of these occurrences, 
was eleven years old, and lived with his grandparents, Mr. and 

347 



THE PORTLAND, OREGON, CASE 
Mrs. Sawyer, at 546 Marshall Street, Portland, Oregon. The 
first disturbance took place on Oct. 28th, 1909. A reporter at 
once got hold of the story, witnessed some of the phenomena, 
and next day published a foil report in the principal local news- 
paper. The consequent notoriety was so annoying to the 
Sawyers that they were glad to hand the boy, Elwin, over to 
Dr. Gilbert, who took him into his own house in Portland, 
and kept his whereabouts secret for a week until the reporters 
again ferreted him out. Meanwhile Dr. Gilbert had obtained 
a detailed statement of the first disturbances from eye- 
witnesses, but Dr. and Mrs. Gilbert failed to obtain any satis- 
factory evidence of supernormal phenomena, and, in fact, 
were convinced that the boy Elwin was the author of the later, 
if not of the Whole of the occurrences. I will return to this 
presently. 

On the other hand the other investigator, Mr. Thacher, 
whose report, published in the Journal of the American S.P.R. 
for November 1910, is one of painstaking care, after a most 
searching investigation, says: practically all the eye-witnesses 
were convinced that the movements were produced by super- 
normal agencies, and the witnesses were numerous enough and 
intelligent enough to create a presumption in favour of genuine 
Poltergeist phenomena. Mr. Thacher remarks: ‘I began to 
collect testimony on Oct. 29 (the day after the first outbreak) 
and have watched closely all developments for . a period of 
several months. I wrote out the story immediately after the 
events narrated, it is in substance a diary, and reflects the 
mental attitude of the witnesses at the time, which gives it a 
certain value in the final analysis and conclusion.’ 

Let us how look at the evidence. A medical man. Dr. Ainley, 
testified on Oct. 29th, and made a signed statement next day, 
that he was in Mr. Sawyer’s house on Oct. 28th, and standing 
near the door, saw the telephone fall from its stand, no one 
being near it but the boy, Elwin, who had come past it and 
was then standing near him. Shortly afterwards a chair near the 
telephone rose up and then fell on the floor. It was picked up, 
and again it was raised and fell on the floor. No one was touch- 
ing it, and no one was nearer than four feet (subsequently 
corrected to six feet) from the chair, and the movements 

348 



THE PORTLAND, OREGON, CASE 
occurred plainly in his. Dr. Ainley’s, sight. Another medical 
man, J. C. Ross, M.D., of Portland, also signed a declaration 
that he wait to the house immediately after the disturbances, 
found the occupants frightened and bewildered, chairs, tables 
and pictures overturned; dishes lying broken on the floor, 
having by some unseen force been pulled off a sideboard. He, 
however, did not see any movements after he arrived. 

Another witness who had been in the U.S. artillery deposed 
that he saw two chairs rise up and tip over in the dining-room, 
whilst the boy, Elwin, was in the kitchen and no one within 
ten or twelve feet of the chairs when they rose and fell over. 
Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer made very detailed depositions of the 
movement of various articles of furniture when no one was 
near them. A large glazed picture which hung on the wall, slid 
slowly down the wall to the floor and rested there without 
breaking the glass or doing any damage. Mr. and Mrs. 
Sawyer both saw this, and Mr. Sawyer added that the picture 
was lifted off the suspending hook, came slowly down, struck 
the ground at one comer, and then righted itself and stood 
leaning against the wall. 

Another witness, Mr. Casson, said that, hearing of these 
disturbances, he went to the house and saw several knives and 
forks rise up an inch or two from the drain-board of the sink 
and fall over on to the floor. A small basket on the sink also 
rose up and fell over on the floor. He and Mrs. Sawyer, the 
only persons present in the room, were six or seven feet away 
from the sink, and the boy, Elwin, was in an adjoining room. 
Mr. Sawyer deposed to the plaster coming off the wall and 
pieces thrown into the room. One piece of plaster flew from the 
kitchen wall, hit a tailor’s goose-iron which was on the table, 
which in its turn, though weighing over a stone, flew off the 
table on to the floor. Another day he saw a basket with some 
onions in it come off the table, and two cans of condensed 
milk followed it, and all fell on the floor. Then the bread can, 
with a pail containing some meat which stood in the pantry, 
fell on the floor, and a number of plates came off the shelf, and 
fell on the floor. Elwin, though in the room, was not near the 
thing s at the time this occurred. The basket that fell was re- 
placed, and again thrown down; this was done several times 

349 



THE PORTLAND, OREGON, CASE 
r unning. Many other disturbances are reported, and numerous 
witnesses affirme d no visible agency could have caused them. 

Now let us hear the other side. Dr. Gilbert, who had taken 
the boy to his house, found him cheating at a game, and also 
saw him deliberately move some objects, when he thought he 
was not observed. This was some time after the original dis- 
turbances, and when nothing had lately occurred. There can 
be no doubt the boy did practise several tricks in December, 
when removed from the Sawyer’s house where the disturbances 
broke out, and Dr. Gilbert obtained a confession from him that 
he did so. Moreover, though at first he denied having had 
any thing to do with the manifestations, when they first broke 
out at the Sawyer’s house, yet Dr. Gilbert says he was so con- 
vinced of the boy’s having tricked them all along that after 
severe cross-examination he obtained a qualified admission 
from the boy that he did do some of the earlier things. Hence 
the conclusion arrived at by Dr. Gilbert was that the whole 
phenomena were fraudulent, and no supernormal agency need 
be assumed. On the other hand, Mr. Thacher, who made a 
more prolonged and searching investigation, says with con- 
siderable justice: ‘Could the fact that the boy had been the 
centre of ' attention for several weeks, and that the interest 
was waning, together with the strong and constantly repeated 
wishes of the small group of persons about him that the move- 
ments without contact should be repeated, be sufficient to in- 
duce him to “fake” the phenomena, and then lie about it [the 
earlier ones]? Or were all the witnesses utterly unreliable, and 
was the immediate family all bound together in the deception?’ 

Now it turns out that there were two persons who influenced 
Dr. Gilbert’s opinion, by attributing fraud to the boy at the 
outset; one stated that he found 38 threads fastened outside 
the window of the dining-room, by which the lad probably 
moved the objects. This evidence also led Dr. Hyslop of the 
American S.P.R. at first to conclude that the whole thing was 
fraud. However, Mr. Thacher discovered that these adverse wit- 
nesses were absolutely untrustworthy. No one saw the witness 
find the threads, and none were to be found; even if the threads 
had been there, the witness could not explain how they could 
move various objects within the room. Finally, this witness was 

350 



THE PORTLAND, OREGON, CASE 

found to be a rogue, so that Dr. Hyslop eventually stated his 
evidence was valueless. The other witness who had stated that 
the boy himself pulled the plaster off and threw it, turns out 
to be the owner of the house and anxious to discredit the whole 
story, as it was likely to depreciate his property; his statements 
were merely inferences of his own, he had seen nothing to sup- 
port them, and Mr. Thacher shows they are entirely disproved, 
inasmuch as the plaster came from parts of the wall and ceiling 
which the boy, even if present, could not possibly reach. 

On the one side we have two discredited witnesses, and on 
the other over twenty credible and disinterested witnesses who 
testify to these occurrences as being due to some unseen 
inexplicable agency. Take, for instance, Mr. Jerome Holmes’s 
statement; he affirms in writing that when in the dining -room 
on October 28th in the afternoon he saw a chair, which was 
standing near the door, go right up in the air as much as three 
feet, and then, whilst it was poised in the air, it turned half 
over to a horizontal position, and then fell on the floor. No one 
was near the chair when it went up in the air. Elwin March had 
just gone out of the room and was outside the door when the 
chair rose up and fell. ‘The chair was plainly in my sight, and I 
am sure that no person in the room touched it during its move- 
ments,’ Mr. Holmes remarks, adding that when he stated what 
he himself clearly saw in broad daylight, people said to him, 
‘Well, you must be crazy.’ Here as elsewhere, as regards the 
witnesses, it was against their interest to make up these stories. 

That the disturbances, like other Poltergeist phenomena, 
are more or less attached to a place, is seen from the feet that 
after Elwin and his grandparents had left Marshall Street, the 
phenomena did not follow them; but it is asserted movements 
of objects without contact occurred for a short time in the 
neighbouring house. Two witnesses told Mr. Thacher the 
facts, but declined to let their names be published, as they did 
not wish ‘to be mixed up in any spooky business’. This evi- 
dence is, therefore, of little value. 

f 

There can be no doubt that this is an important case, not 
only, nor perhaps chiefly, from a psychical point of view, but 
from a psychological standpoint. 

35i 



THE PORTLAND, OREGON, CASE 

We find what appear to be undoubtedly genuine phenomena 
passing into fraudulent imitations by the lad around whom 
interest chiefly centred. As a recent American writer on the 
‘Psychology of Child Development 5 says: ‘A child sees an elder 
writing with a pencil. When he has a chance he tries it. To an 
observer it is a case of imitation, but to the child it is an 
attempt to get a new experience with a pencil through the 
image furnished by the adult.’ 

Other cases of trickery, and even confession to a part of the 
phenomena observed, are recorded in our Proceedings. In a 
Poltergeist case occurring in 1895 at Ham, near Hungerford, 
Berks., Mr. Westlake saw the twelve-year-old child, who was 
the centre of the disturbances, deliberately move objects. In 
the case of Emma Davies at Wem, in Shropshire, Mr. Hughes, 
who investigated the case on behalf of our Society, obtained a 
partial confession from Emm a Davies. This led to a critical 
review of the case by my friend, Mr. C. C. Massey, who pub- 
lished a pamphlet which showed how inconclusive such sub- 
sequent confessions are, for objects jumped off tables and out 
of cupboards when the girl was outside the room, and under 
circumstances quite inconsistent with trickery. Mr. Massey 
remarks that it is probable the vanity of the girl was more 
gratified by the reputation of having duped the investigators 
than by that of being the medium of an unknown force. 

The question then arises, are we to reject as worthless evi- 
dence of what appear to be supernormal phenomena because 
sometimes there are cases of subsequent imitation and trickery, 
and even occasionally confession of fraud? In cases of Polter- 
geists, children are usually the centre of disturbances, and the 
superficial or prejudiced observer, knowing the love of mis- 
chief among children, and that in his and nearly every one’s 
experience objects don’t jump about without an assignable 
cause, naturally comes to the conclusion that any supernormal 
explanation is needless and absurd. But this a priori argument, 
which satisfies the man in the street, completely breaks down 
when a critical and historical study of the whole subject is 
made. 

In the numerous trials for witchcraft recorded in different 
countries the so-called witches freely confessed that they did 

352 



THE DALE TOWER, GEORGIA, U.S.A., CASE 

quite impossible things. One of the most tragic and heart- 
breaking series of confessions occurred in the village of Mobra, 
in Sweden, where, in 1670, it is stated in the public register of 
the Lords Commissioners who tried the case that 71 children 
freely confessed that they were engaged in witchery, that they 
were carried away by the devil; and being ‘separately and in- 
dependently examined to see if their confessions did agree’, 
the Commissioners state they ‘found that all of them except 
some very litde ones, who could not tell all the circumstances, 
did practically agree in the confession of particulars’. And the 
particulars consisted in describing the traditional devil, how 
they were carried through the air and down chimneys, that 
burning candles were stuck in their hair, but they were not 
burnt, that they were beaten with thorns, etc., etc. And all this 
upon oath, and in peril of their lives. In fact, 15 children, who 
so confessed, were thereupon burnt; 36 children, between 9 
and 16 years old, considered less guilty, were publicly beaten 
once a week for a year, and forced ‘to run the gauntlet’; 20 
more, mere babies, were lashed with rods for three Sundays at 
the Church door. The number of children more or less found 
guilty, we are told, was 300. In addition, 70 women, all from 
this same village, were tried; 23 freely confessed their witch- 
craft and were burnt, the rest were imprisoned and afterwards 
executed. 1 

Obviously, therefore, we must not place too much reliance 
upon the confessions of children, nor of uneducated persons, 
who bdieve the superstitions of their day to be actual facts, 
and tacitly accept the opinion of their ‘betters’, when told that 
they have taken part in the witchery of which they are accused. 


THE DALE TOWER, GEORGIA, U.S.A., CASE 

One of the most recent Poltergeists has occurred in Georgia, 
U.S.A., and is described in the Occult Review for May, 1911. 
The narrator is a medical man, T. Hart Raines, M.D., who as 
soon as he heard of the occurrences began an investigation, and 
whilst he did not witness the phenomena himself, he inter- 

1 See Glanvil, Saducismus Triumphatus, the last tract, 
z 353 s.p. 



THE DALE TOWER, GEORGIA, U.S.A., CASE 

viewed the three young men who collectively saw what 
occurred and he personally visited the scene of the disturb- 
ance. Dr. Raines states that the young men are intelligent 
telegraph operators, and their veracity above suspicion: they 
are positive that they were not deceived or hallucinated, and 
they have all signed a statement certifying to the truth of the 
facts. 

The disturbances took place in a little railway telegraph 
tower at Dale, Georgia, on the main line of the Atlantic coast 
railroad. The tower adjoins the railway track, and is the only 
house of any description within a quarter of a mile. During 
nine months in the year the tower is closed, and is opened for 
the tourist season from January to April. The three young 
men — Bright, Davies, and Clark — opened the tower on Janu- 
ary 4, 1911, and were the sole occupants living in its two rooms, 
one room above the other, a trap-door closing die stair leading 
to the upper room. The first thing that occurred was the sud- 
den, inexplicable flinging open of the trap-door, and the diffi- 
culty of keeping it closed. In spite of fastening it with stout 
nails and an iron bar, it would still fly open; mysterious foot- 
steps were also heard on the stair, but a careful search revealed 
no cause for the disturbances. Then followed the raising and 
lowering of the window sashes in the upper chamber, in full 
view of the three occupants, no one being near the window. 
‘To assure themselves against tricksters, the trap-door leading 
down to the floor below was closed and securely fastened, and 
raised only when necessary to descend to the ground. This 
precaution had no effect whatsoever on the phenomena, and 
soon various articles began to be levitated about the room in 
broad open daylight in full view of all three occupants of the 
tower, when there was no possible chance for trickery or fraud. 
A can of condensed milk was seen to lift itself into die air and 
pass from one aid of the desk to the other without the con- 
tact of a visible hand. A large dish-pan lying near the stove 
slowly lifted itself and rolled down the stairs and out of the 
tower and under it, from whence it had to be fished out with 
the aid of a long pole. A lantern was levitated on to the desk 
without having been touched, and in full view of all. On 
another occasion this lantern made a wild rush across the room 

354 



THE DALE TOWER, GEORGIA, U.S.A., CASE 

and dashed itself into fragments against the wall. An ordinary 
can-opener flew wildly about the room and fastened itself in 
the centre of the ceiling. I [Dr. Raines] saw this can-opener, 
and can assure any one interested that the most expert could 
not perform a similar feat once in a hundred efforts. Frequently 
bolts and taps, such as are used in railroad construction work, 
would be hurled into the room, breaking a hole in the glass of 
the window scarcely large enough to enter through. 

‘On one occasion, when objects were being hurled about the 
room so persistently that the tower was hastily abandoned by 
all three occupants, a chair was dashed out of the upper win- 
dow, and fell with such force that one of the rings was broken. 
This in broad daylight, with no one in the tower, and the only 
avenue of entrance or of escape guarded by the three occupants 
of the tower. I [Dr. Raines] saw the chair, and only a terrific 
blow could have so injured it.’ 

The young men were now in a state of panic, and one of 
them walked seven miles to the nearest town, to resign his 
position, and he assured Dr. Raines nothing would induce him 
again to go through the eerie experience he had suffered. The 
last of the strange occurrences took place a few days before Dr. 
Raines visited the tower and made a searching investigation of 
the possibility of some outside person tricking the young men. 
This, he says, was impossible, nor could the vibration of pass- 
ing trains have caused the phenomena, and any attempt to 
climb the stair would have been instantly detected by the 
operators, one of whom was always on duty. Dr. Raines is 
convinced that there was no chance of deception, that the 
operators were perfectly truthful and were not the victims of 
hallucination. In fact, the whole record exactly resembles other 
Poltergeist phenomena in their sudden development and sud- 
den cessation. 

A recent case of Poltergeist in Surrey was reported in the 
newspapers and on inquiry I learned that the phenomena 
occurred as narrated; but I have been unable to visit the place 
and obtain the evidence at first hand. 


355 



THE VIENNA POLTERGEIST 


THE VIENNA POLTERGEIST 

In the Journal of tie Society for May, 1907, there is a report 
of a typical Poltergeist occurring in a Vienna suburb. The 
report is sent by an eye-witness of some of the disturbances, 
Mr. Wamdorfer, a member of the S.P.R., living at Baden, near 
Vienna. Regarding this case Miss A. Johnson (Research Officer 
of the S.P.R.) writes to me as follows: ‘Mr. Wamdorfer, whom 
I know personally, is an unusually cool-headed and competent 
observer, and a very intelligent and open-minded man. He is 
genuinely interested in psychical research, and would, I feel 
sure, be prepared to give an impartial account of anything he 
witnessed.’ Miss Johnson adds that she believes Air. Wam- 
dorfer ‘is not convinced of the genuineness of this case, or of 
any telekinetic phenomena; what it amounts to is that he 
investigated this case carefully, and did not discover any fraud 
in it’. 

The principal points in the narrative are as follows. A\smith 
named Zimmerl has a shop near Vienna (address given), where 
he employs two apprentices. The shop is at the end of a 
long court, in the souterrain of a large house inhabited by, 
tradespeople, so that it is entered by going down a short, open 
stair. Zimmerl had had the shop some four years, but nothing 
unusual occurred until July, 1906, when a report appeared in 
a Vienna paper of the mysterious disturbances that had broken 
out in this smith’s shop. 

On July 16th, 1906, Mr. Wamdorfer visited the shop and 
heard from Zimmerl how tools, bits of iron, etc., had been 
flung about the place, and both the master and one of his 
apprentices had been hurt by one of these missiles. He had 
watched the boys, but could not detect any tricks on their part; 
in feet, when they were outside the shop the missiles still flew 
about, and from an opposite direction to where they stood, and 
where a solid wall intervened. The police had investigated the 
matter and could find no thing to account for the disturbances. 
The tools, etc., had to be put into boxes and moved outside, as 
they were afraid to work otherwise. The man was much scared, 
and lost customers through this mysterious anno yance. Once 

356 



THE VIENNA POLTERGEIST 

a pipe flew from one side of the shop to the other, and then 
came back and settled on the anvil in the middle of the room; 
another time the pipe was taken from Zimmerl’s mouth and 
fluttered on to the lathe. 

Mr. Wamdorfer made several subsequent visits, and heard 
still more remarkable accounts, and was able to witness many 
of the occurrences. On one occasion he saw more than a 
dozen objects thrown about, and was ‘perfectly certain none 
of the persons present could have thrown them’; one was 
thrown when he happened to be alone in the shop. He never 
saw the objects actually fly, but heard them fall; some dropped 
close to him, and three struck him on the head. In reply to 
enquiries from the S.P.R., Mr. Wamdorfer relates five cases of 
inexplicable movements of objects, which he witnessed in day- 
light, and of which he believes ‘the chances of mal-observation 
were very small indeed’. One of these cases was as follows. 
A small glazed picture which he had seen hanging on the wall 
a few minutes before came fluttering through the air to the 
middle of the shop, where it fell on the floor, but did not 
break; in fact, it moved like a sheet of paper. At the time he 
was standing about a yard and a half in front of the picture, 
nobody being near it, nor in that part of the shop through 
which it moved. He did not see it leave its place, but saw it 
when it was about a couple of yards from where it alighted. 
Mr. Wamdorfer adds that he thinks ‘it would be very difficult, 
though not impossible, to throw or drop such a picture with- 
out its breaking’. Another incident witnessed by Mr. Wam- 
dorfer occurred when the smith was out of the shop and the 
two apprentices were drilling a hole in a piece of iron. He was 
watching their slow work and noticed that their four hands 
were all engaged at their work; of this he was ‘perfectly cer- 
tain’, when suddenly one of the boys screamed with pain; a 
pair of big iron compasses, which had been lying on the work- 
bench a yard behind the boy, had flown across and hit the boy 
sharply on the temple, causing a swelling and a little blood. 
Mr. Wamdorfer saw the iron compasses ricochetting as it 
were off the boy’s head and falling to the ground. He himself 
was five times hit — three times on the head, as already men- 
tioned, and twice elsewhere, once rather severely, with pieces 

357 



THE VIENNA POLTERGEIST 
of iron and steel that unaccountably flew across the room and 
struck him. 

The disturbances continued for two months, and then 
ceased. One of the lads, round whom the disturbances seemed 
to cluster, was taken to the police court and fined, though he 
denied all guilt, and there was no direct evidence of his having 
thrown anything. The boys were, nevertheless, dismissed, and 
the disturbances ceased. Mr. Wamdorfer, however, does not 
consider that this proves anything, and he is right, for if his 
observations were correct the boys could not have been the 
culprits. 



358 


8. THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 


By Walter Hubbell ( Brenta.no , Nezo York, 1888) 


. Breslands, N. Y., 1888 

Amherst, Nova Scotia, is a beautiful village, situated on the 
famous Bay of Fundy, and is reached either from Halifax, 
Nova Scotia, or St. John, New Brunswick, by the remarkably 
well managed Inter-Colonial Railway, being about 140 miles 
from each city. It has a population of about three thousand 
five hundred souls, and contains four churches, an Academy, a 
Music Hall, containing scenery, where dramatic and operatic 
entertainments are frequently given. It also has a large iron 
foundry, a large shoe factory, and probably more stores of 
various kinds than any village of its size in the Province. The 
private residences of the more wealthy inhabitants are pic- 
turesque in appearance, being surrounded by beautifully laid- 
out lawns, studded with ornamental shade trees of various 
kinds, and in summer with numerous beds of flowers of choice 
and sometimes very rare varieties. The residences of Parson 
Townsend, Mr. Robb, Dr. Nathan Tupper, Dr. Carritte, 
and Mr. G. G. Bird, proprietor of the Amherst book store, 
also, that of Mr. Amos Purdy, the village postmaster, were 
sure to attract a visitor’s attention, and command his admira- 
tion during any residence in the village; and although some 
time; has elapsed since I was last there, I doubt not but that 
they look just as they did then, for villages like Amherst do 
not grow very fast in any part of Canada; there is not the 
energy and push to be met with here that we have in the 
United States. In this little village there was on Princess 
Street, near Church, a neat two-storey cottage painted yellow; 


359 





THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 
it had in front a small yard extending to the stable in the rear. 
The tidy appearance of the cottage and its pleasant situation 
were sure to attract a stranger’s attention and always excited 
the admir ation of the neighbours. Upon entering the house 
everything was found to be so tastefully arranged, was so 
scrupulously clean and comfortable, that a visitor felt at home 
immediately, being confident that everything was under the 
personal direction of a thrifty housewife. The first floor of the 
cottage consisted of four rooms. A parlour, lighted by a large 
bay window filled with beautiful geraniums of every imagin- 
able colour and variety, was the first room to attract attention, 
then the dining-room, with its old-fashioned dock, its numer- 
ous home-made rugs, easy chairs, and commodious table, 
made a visitor feel like dining , especially if the hour was near 
twelve; for, at about that time of day, savoury odours were sure 
to issue from the adjoinin g kitchen. The kitchen was all that a 
room of that kind in a village cottage should be; was not very 
large, and contained an ordinary wood-stove, a large pine table, 
and a small washstand; had a door opening into the side yard 
near the stable, and another into the woodshed, besides the 
one connecting it with the dining-room, making three doors in 
all, and one window from which you could look into a narrow 
side yard. The fourth room on this floor was very small and 
was used as a sewing-room; it adjoined the dining-room and 
parlour and had a door opening into each. Besides these four 
rooms, there was a large pantry having a small window about 
four feet from the floor, the door of this pantry opening into 
the dining-room. Such was the arrangement of the rooms of 
the first floor. The doors of the dining-room and parlour 
opened into a hallway leading from the front door. Upon 
entering the front door, at your right, you saw the stairway 
in the hall leading to the floor above, and upon ascending this 
stairway and turning to your left you found yourself on the 
second storey of the cottage, which consisted of an entry 
running at right angles with the hallway of the floor below. 
In about the centre of this entry was a trap-door, without a 
ladder, to the loft above, and opening into the entry, where the 
trap-door was, were four small bedrooms, each one of which 
had one small window, and one door, there being no doors 

360 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

between the rooms. Two of these bedrooms faced Princess 
Street, and the other two towards the back of the yard over- 
looking the stable. Like the rest of the house, all these bed- 
rooms were conspicuous for their neat, cosy appearance, being 
all papered (except the one at the head of the stairs), and all 
painted, and furnished with ordinary cottage furniture. 
Everything about this little house would have impressed the 
most casual observer with the fact that its inmat es were 
evidently happy and contented, if not rich. Such was the 
humble home of honest Daniel Teed, a shoemaker whom 
"everybody knew and respected. He never owed a dollar to any 
one if he could pay it, and never allowed his family to want for 
any comfort that could be provided with his hard-earned 
salary as foreman of the Amherst Shoe Factory. 

Daniel’s family consisted of his wife, Olive, as good a woman 
as ever lived, Willie, aged five years, and George aged seven- 
teen months. I think little Mrs. Teed worked harder than any 
woman I ever knew. Willie was a strong, healthy-looking lad, 
with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes, and curly, brown hair. 
His principal amusements were throwing stones at the 
chickens in the yard and street, and playing with his little 
brother. Little golden-haired George was cert ainl y the finest 
boy of his age in the village, and his merry laugh, winning ways 
and smart actions to attact attention, made him a favourite 
with all who visited the cottage. Besides his wife and two sons, 
Daniel had, under his roof and protection, his wife’s two sis- 
ters, Jennie and Esther Cox, who boarded with him. Jane, or 
Jennie, as she was often called, was a most self-possessed 
young woman, of about twenty-two and quite a beauty. Her 
hair was light brown, and reached below her waist when 
allowed to fall at full length. At other times she wore it in the 
Grecian style; her eyes were of that rarely seen greyish blue, 
and her. dear complexion and handsome teeth added greatly 
to her fine personal appearance. To be candid, Jennie Cox 
was a village belle, and always had a host of admirers, not of 
the opposite sex alone, but among the ladies. She was a mem- 
ber and regular attendant of Parson Townsend’s Episcopal 
Church, of which the Reverend Townsend had been pastor for 
about forty-five years. Jennie’s sister, Esther, was low in 

36i 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

stature, and rather inclined to be short. Her hair was curly, of a 
dark brown colour, and worn short, reaching only to her 
shoulders; her eyes were large and grey, with a bluish tinge, 
and a very earnest expression, which seemed to say: ‘Why do 
you look at me, I cannot help being unlike other people?’ Her 
eyebrows and lashes were dark, the lashes being long and eye- 
brows very distinct. Her face was what would be called round, 
with well-shaped features. And her teeth was remarkably 
handsome. She had a pale complexion, and small hands and 
feet that were well shaped. Esther was very fond of house- 
work and proved a help to her sister, Mrs. Teed. In other 
respects, Esther Cox had an indescribable appearance of 
rugged honesty about her, that certainly made that simple- 
hearted village maiden very attractive. She had numbers of 
friends of her own age, which was about nineteen years, and 
was always in demand among the litde children of the neigh- 
bourhood, who were always ready to have a romp and a game 
of tag with their dear friend Esther. 

There were two other boarders in the cottage, John Teed, 
Daniel’s brother, and William Cox, the brother of Mrs. Teed 
and her sisters. William Cox was a shoemaker, and worked in 
the same factory as his brother-in-law. John Teed, like his 
brother, was an honest, hard-working man, and had been 
brought up a farmer, an occupation he followed when not 
boarding with Daniel in Amherst. 

Daniel Teed was, at this time, about thirty-five years of age, 
five feet eight in his stockings. Had light brown hair, rather 
thin on top of his well-shaped head, blue eyes, well-defined 
features, and what is called a Roman nose. His complexion 
was florid, and he wore a heavy moustache and bushy side- 
whiskers. Rheumatism, of several years s tanding ., had given 
him a slight halt in his left leg. He led an exemplary Chris tian 
life, had a pew in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, of which 
the Rev. R. A. Temple was pastor, and belonged to a temper- 
ance society. Mrs. Olive Teed had dark hair, grey eyes, and a 
pale complexion, and attended church with her husband. 
Being older than her sisters she was looked up to by them for 
advice and consolation when they were in trouble. Life in the 
household of Daniel Teed was the same monotonous exis tenc e 

362 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

day after day. They always dined at twelve o’clock. Shortly 
before that hour, Esther would generally be seen seated on the 
parlour floor playing with litde George. Willie was frequently 
to be found in the yard, near the stable, in the summer. Once, 
I remember, he was found there tormenting a poor hen, to 
whose leg Mrs. Teed had tied a log of wood to prevent her 
from setting in the cow’s stall; he however, seemed to think 
she had been purposely tied so that he might have the pleasure 
of banging her over the head with a small dub, which he was 
doing with great persistency, when his mother came out of the 
kitchen, boxed his ears and sent him bawling into the house, 
much to the relief of the hen, who had just fallen over from 
exhaustion and fright. Finally, dinner would be ready, and 
honest Daniel would come in hungry. Jennie would be seen 
coming down the street from her work; she held a position in 
Mr. James P. Dunlop’s establishment, and went to work every 
morning at seven o’clock. All being there they would sit down 
to a substantial meal of beefsteak and onions, plenty of hot, 
mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage, home-made bread, and 
delirious butter made from the rich cream of Danid’s red cow. 
This was the happy, innocent existence led by Daniel Teed 
and his family. One day was so like another that the weeks 
slipped away without perceptible difference, and it was while 
they were living thus that there occurred one of the most 
frightful calamities that can befall any household, Jew or 
Gentile, rich or poor. 

To have something moving about within the atmosphere, as 
it did in this house, is terrible to contemplate. What was it? 
Where did it come from and for what purpose? were questions 
that not only the inhab itants of Amh erst could not answer, 
but have been asked in vain of the scientific world. Of course 
there were many theories advanced, but what are theories? 
Often only imaginary circumstances thought out by men in 
an endeavour to explain mysteries when tangible facts are 
so elusive as to be useless. One very remarkable fact about 
this house was that the power within die atmosphere 
increased in strength. In all other haunted houses, of which 
I have heard, the mystery was as powerful at the first as when 
it had nearly ceased, or been explained away as the work of 

363 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

designing persons whofchad a spedficjj(object in view, such 
as an endeavour to so injure the reputation of the house, in 
the minds of timid persons, that its owner would rent it for 
half the usual rent to get it off his hands, or a desire to frighten 
some very sensitive person as a joke. There were no such 
suspicious circumstances, however, surrounding the house of 
Daniel Teed. He was, in every sense of the word, a good man; 
paid his rent promptly, and his household was in every way 
highly respectable, and consequently all its members were 
worthy of the esteem in which they were held by all classes 
who knew them. Then, it must be remembered, the house 
stood alone on the lot, being what is known as a detached 
cottage. On the front was a yard opening on Princess Street, 
on the right side as you entered the front gate was an open 
lot about ioo feet deep to the next house; on the left was a 
cottage fifteen or twenty feet away, and on the back, the stable. 
I examined the cellar, and there was no subterranean passage 
leading anywhere. The roof was an 1 orcjinary peaked one, and 
so built that both sides could be seen from the front street. 

The family of Daniel Teed rarely required the services of a 
physician, but when any member of the household was ill. 
Dr. Carritte was always called. Dr. Carritte is a gentleman of 
culture and refinement, and of very high standing in the pro- 
fession of which he is such a distinguished member and orna- 
ment. It is probable that he, more than any man, except myself, 
can speak comprehensively of the Great Amherst Mystery. He 
knew of and heard this phenomenon from the commencement 
of its diabolical demonstration, and tried all means known to 
the science of medicine to frustrate its demoniacal designs, and 
banish it from the house, in vain. His residence in Amherst was 
always a delightful house to visit, and he has many warm 
friends in the dramatic profession, in whose members he has 
for many years taken a personal interest, and had an almost 
fatherly regard. He has, in more than one instance, corrobor- 
ated my most extraordinary statements in regard to the d oing s 
of the unknown power, and I know will be only too happy to 
do so, in the future. For I am fully aware that there are thous- 
ands of persons who will not believe a word I have written, and 
to those persons I will now' say, that if they will consult the 

364 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

files of the Amherst Gazette, from August 28, 1878, to August 
1, 1879; also the Daily News of St. John, N.B., of September 8, 
1879, for 'which paper I wrote a short account of the pheno- 
mena; and the New York Commercial Advertiser, of January 17, 
1888; or call upon any of the persons whose names appear in 
this narrative, they will find that all my statements are what 
I claim for them — simply, the Truth, which is legally sworn 
to in my affidavit. 

THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

Supper was just over. Mr. and Mrs. Teed were sitting in 
the parlour with Jennie, who presently went upstairs to the 
bedroom at the head of the stairs, where Esther was already in 
bed, having retired at seven o’clock. She asked Esther a 
question, and not receiving a reply, told her that she was going 
to see Miss Porter, and would soon return, remarking that the 
damp, foggy night made her feel sleepy too. As the night was a 
very disagreeable one, all retired to their rooms about half-past 
eight, and at about fifteen minutes to nine Jennie, having 
returned from her visit, also retired to the room where Esther 
had been in bed for some time. Getting into bed with her 
sister she noticed that she had forgotten to put out the lamp, 
which she immediately extinguished, and got into bed again, 
remarking that the room was very dark, as she bumped her 
head against the bed-post. She was nearly asleep, when Esther 
asked her if it was not the fourth of September, to which she 
replied in the affirmative, remarking that she wanted to go to 
sleep. The room in which the girls were in bed together was 
• in the front of the house, in the second storey, at the head of 
the stairs, and next to the room occupied by Mr. and Mrs. 
Teed and their children, and had one window directly over the 
front door. They had lain perfectly quiet for about ten 
minutes, when Esther jumped out of bed with a scream, ex- 
. claiming that there was a mouse under the bedclothes. Her 
scr eam startled her sister, who was almost asleep, and she also 
got out of bed and at once lighted the lamp. They then both 
searched the bed, but could not find the mouse. Supposing it 
to be inside the mattress, Jennie remarked that they were both 

365 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

fools to be afraid of a little harmless mouse, ‘For, see,’ said she, 
‘it is inside the mattress; look how the straw inside is being 
moved about by it. The mouse has gotten inside somehow and 
cannot get out because it is lost. Let us go back to bed, Esther; 
it cannot harm us now.’ 

So they put out the light and got into bed again. After listen- 
ing for a few minu tes without hearing the straw move in the 
mattress the girls fell asleep. 

On the following night the girls heard something moving 
under their bed, and Esther exclaimed, 

‘There is that mouse again, let us get up and kill it. I am not 
going to be worried by a mouse every night. ’ 

They arose, and one of them lighted the lamp. On hearing 
a rustling in a green pasteboard box filled with patchwork, 
which was under the bed, they placed the box in the middle of 
the room, and were amazed to see it spring up into the air 
about a foot, and then fall to the floor and turn over on its 
side. The girls could not believe their own eyes, so Jennie 
again placed the box in the middle of, the room and both 
watched it intently, when the same thing was repeated. Both 
Jennie and Esther were now thoroughly frightened, and 
screamed as loudly as they could for Daniel, who quickly put 
on some clothing and came into their room to ascertain what 
was the matter. They described what had occurred, but he 
only laughed, and after pushing the box under the bed, 
remarked that they must be crazy, or perhaps had been dream- 
ing; and after grumbling because his rest had been disturbed, 
he went bad: to bed. The next morning the girls both declared 
that the box had really moved upward into the air, and had 
then fallen to the floor, and rolled over on its side, where 
Daniel had found it on entering their room; but as no one 
believed them, they conduded it was of no use to talk of the 
singular occurrence. After breakfast, Jennie went to Mr. Dun- 
lop’s to work (she was a tailoress), and the rest of the house- 
hold about their daily business, as usual, leaving Mrs. Teed, 
Esther and the boys alone in the house. After dinner Mrs. 
Teed sat in the parlour sewing, while Esther went out to 
walk. The afternoon was delightfully cool, a pleasant breeze 
blowing from the bay. Walking is very pleasant when there is 

3 66 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

no dust, but Amherst is such a dusty village, especially when 
the wind blows from the bay and so scatters the dust of the 
unpaved streets, that it is impossible to walk on any of them 
with comfort, that Esther finding this to be the case retraced 
her steps homeward, stopping at the post-office and at Bird’s 
book store, where she bought a bottle of ink from Miss 
Blanche and then returned home. After supper Esther took 
her accustomed seat on the door-step, r emainin g there until 
the moon had risen. It was a beautiful moonlight night, almost 
as bright as day; and while seated there looking at the moon, 
she remarked to Jennie, that she would surely have good luck 
during the month because she had seen the new moon over her 
shoulder. At half-past eight o’clock in the evening, Esther 
complained of feeling feverish, and was advised by Mrs. Teed 
and Jennie to go to bed, which she did. At about ten o’clock, 
Jennie also retired. After she had been in bed with Esther some 
fifteen minutes, the latter jumped with a sudden bound into 
the centre of the room, taking all the bedclothes with her, 
exclaiming: 

‘My God! what is the matter with me? I’m dying!’ 

Jennie at once got out of bed, thinking her sister had an 
attack of nightmare; but, when she had lighted the lamp, was 
much alarmed at Esther’s appearance as she stood in the centre 
of the room with her short hair almost standing on end, her 
face blood-red and her eyes looking as if they would start from 
their sockets, while her hands were grasping the back of a 
chair so tightly that her finger-nails sank into the soft wood. 
And, truly, she was an object to be looked on with astonish- 
ment, as she stood there in her white nightgown, trembling 
with fear. Jennie called as loudly as she could for assistance; 
for she, too, was thoroughly frightened by this time, and did 
not know what to do. Mrs. Teed was the first to enter the room, 
having first thrown a shawl around her shoulders, for it was a 
very chilly night; Daniel put on his coat and trousers in a hurry, 
as did also W illiam Cox and John Teed, and the three men 
entered the room at almost the same instant. 

‘Why, what in thunder ails you, Esther?’ asked Daniel, while 
William Cox and John Teed exclaimed in the same breath — 

‘She’s mad!’ 


367 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

Mrs. Teed was speechless with amazement; and they all 
stood looking at the girl, not knowing what to do to relieve her 
terrible agony. Suddenly, she became pale and seemed to be 
growing very weak, and in a short time became so weak that 
she had to be assisted to the bed. After sitting on the edge of 
bed for a moment, and gazing about the room with a vacant 
stare, she started to her feet with a wild yell and said that she 
felt as if she was about to burst into pieces. 

‘Great Heavens!’ exclaimed Mrs. Teed, ‘what shall we do 
with her? She is crazy!’ 

Jennie, who generally retained her presence of mind, said in 
a soothing tone, ‘Come, Esther, get into bed again.’ 

As she could not do so without assistance, her sisters helped 
her in, when she gasped in a choking voice, ‘I am swelling up 
and shall certainly burst, I know I shall.’ 

Daniel looked at her, and remarked in a starded tone, ‘Why, 
the girl is swelling! Olive, just look at her; even her hands are 
swollen. Lay your hand on her; she is as hot as fire.’ 

I have asked a number of physicians if they had ever met 
with similar conditions in a patient, and all replied that they 
had not, and added, never should. Such, however, was the 
condition of this girl at the time. While the family stood look- 
ing at her -wondering what to do to relieve her, for her entire 
body had now swollen and she was screaming with pain and 
grinding her teeth as if in an epileptic fit, a loud report, like 
one peal of thunder without that terrible after rumbling, was 
heard in the room. They all, except Esther, who was in bed, 
started instantly to their feet and stood motionless, literally 
paralysed with surprise. 

Mrs. Teed was the first to speak, exclaiming, ‘My God! the 
house has been struck by a thunderbolt, and I know that my 
boys have been killed,’ rushed from the room followed by her 
husband, William Cox and John Teed; Jennie remained by 
Esther’s bedside. 

On finding the children both sleeping soundly they returned 
to the room and stood looking at Esther in silence, wondering 
what had produced the terrible sound. Going to the window 
Mrs. Teed raised the curtain and saw the stars shining brightly 
and all were then satisfied it had not been thunder they had 

368 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

heard. Just as she let the curtain down again, three terrific 
reports were heard in the room, apparently coming from under 
the bed on which Esther lay. These reports were so loud that 
the whole room shook, and Esther, who a moment before had 
been so fearfully swollen, and in such great pain, immediately 
assumed her natural appearance and sank into a state of calm 
repose. As soon as they were sure that it was sleep, not death, 
that had taken possession of her, they all left the room, except 
Jennie, who went again to bed beside her sister, but could not 
sleep for the balance of the night, through nervous excitement. 
The next day Esther remained in bed until about nine o’clock, 
when she arose, apparently herself again, and got her own 
breakfast. Her appetite on this occasion was not as good as 
usual. All she could eat was a small piece of bread and butter, 
and a large green pickle, washed down with a cup of strong 
black tea. She, however, helped Mrs. Teed with the house- 
work, as usual, and after dinner took a walk past the post office 
and around the block home again. 

At supper that evening the usual conversation occurred 
about the unearthly sounds, but as not one of them could offer 
an explanation they concluded it was too deep a matter for 
them to talk about, and all agreed to keep it secret and not 
inform any of their friends or neighbours what had transpired. 
They knew that no one would believe that such strange, un- 
known sounds had been heard under the bed, nor that Esther 
had been so singularly affected from unknown causes. About 
four nights after the loud reports had been heard, Esther had a 
similar attack. It came on at ten o’clock at night, just as she 
was about to get into bed. This time, however, she managed to 
get into the bed before the attack had swelled her to any great 
extent. 

Jennie Cox, who had already retired, advised her to remain 
perfectly quiet, consoling her with the hope that if she did so the 
attack would in all probability pass away, and she would then 
be able to go to sleep without further inconvenience. Esther re- 
mained perfectly motionless as advised, but had only been so 
for about five minu tes when, to the consternation of both, all 
the bedclothes, except the bottom sheet on which they lay, 
flew off and settled down in a confused heap in a far comer of 

2 a 369 S.P. 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

the room. They could see them passing through the air by the 
light of the kerosene lamp, which was lighted and standing on 
the table, and both screamed as only thoroughly scared girls 
can, and then Jennie fainted. And was it not enough to have 
frightened any woman and made her faint? 

On hearing the screams, the entire family rushed into the 
room, after hurriedly putting on some garments. There lay all 
the bedclothes in the comer; Esther fearfully swollen, but 
entirely conscious, and Jennie lying as if she were dead. In- 
deed she looked like a corpse as the light of the lamp, which 
Daniel held in his hand, fell upon her pale face. 

Mrs. Teed was the first to recover her senses and, seeing 
that the forms of her two sisters ware exposed, quickly took up 
the bedclothes and placed them on the girls again. She had no 
sooner done so than they instantly flew off to the same comer 
of the room, and the pillow, from under Esther’s head, came 
flying through the air and struck John Teed in the face. This 
was too much for John Teed’s nerves, and he immediately left 
the room,, after remarking, ‘he had had enough of it’, and 
could not be induced to return to sit on the edges of the bed 
with die others who, in that way, managed to keep the bed- 
clothes in place over the girls. Jennie had by this time re- 
covered from her fainting spell, and William Cox went down 
to the kitchen for a bucket of water to bathe Esther’s head, 
which was aching, when, just as he got to the door of the room 
again with the bucket of water, a succession of reports were 
heard that seemed to come from the bed whence the two girls 
lay. These reports were so loud that the whole room trembled 
from their vibrations; and Esther, who a moment before had 
been swollen, assumed her natural appearance, and in a few 
minutes fell into an apparently healthfiil sleep. As all seemed 
right again the entire family retired, but could sleep no more 
that night. 

The next morning Jennie and Esther were both very weak, 
particularly Esther. She arose, however, when her sister did 
and lay down on the sofa in the parlour. At breakfast the mem- 
bers' of the family all agreed that a doctor had better be sent 
for; so in the afternoon Daniel left the factory early and went 
to see Dr. Carritte, who laughed heartily when Daniel in- 

370 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

formed him what had occurred, and said he would call in the 
evening, and remain until the following mornin g , if necessary; 
but did not hesitate to say, that what Daniel told him was all 
nonsense, remarking that he knew no such tomfoolery would 
occur while he was in the house. As the hands of the dock 
pointed to ten that evening, in walked the doctor. Wishing 
everybody a hearty good-evening, he took a seat near Esther, 
who had been in bed since nine o’clock, but as yet had not been 
afflicted with one of her strange attacks of swelling, nor had 
any of the strange noises been heard. The doctor fdt her pulse, 
looked at her tongue, and then told the family that she 
seemed to be suffering from nervous excitement, and had 
evidently received a tremendous shock of some kind. Just after 
he had given this opinion, and while he was still sitting by her 
side, the pillow on which her head was lying came out from 
under her head, with the exception of one comer, as if it was 
pulled by some invisible power, and straightening itself out, 
as if filled with air, remained so a moment, and then went 
back to its place again, under her head. 

The doctor’s large blue eyes opened to their utmost capacity 
as he asked in a low tone, ‘Did you see that? It went bade 
again.’ 

‘So it did,’ remarked John Teed, ‘but if it moves out again, 
it will not go back, for I intend to hold on to it, even if it did 
bang me over the head last night.’ 

John had no sooner spoken these words than out came the 
pillow from under Esther’s head as before. He waited until it 
had just started back again, then grasped it with both his 
hands and held it with all his strength, and he was, it must be 
remembered, a strong, healthy young farmer. However, all 
his efforts to hold it were unavailing, as it was pulled away 
from him by some invisible power stronger than himself, and 
again assumed its position under the young girl’s head. Just 
imag ine his astonishment. All the members of the family told 
me that they never saw any one so completely dumbfounded as 
John Teed was at that moment. 

‘How wonderful!’ exclaimed Dr. Carritte. 

The doctor arose from his chair; and the loud reports com- 
menced under the bed as on the previous nights. He looked 

37i 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 
beneath the bed but failed to ascertain what had caused the 
sounds. He walked to the door and the sounds followed him, 
being now produced on the floor of the room. In about a 
minute after this the bedclothes flew off 1 again; and before 
they had been put back on the bed to cover Esther, the dis- 
tinct sound as of some person writing on the wall with a 
metallic instrument was heard. All looked at the wall whence 
the sound of writing came, when, to their great astonishment, 
there could be plainly read these words, ‘Esther Cox, you are 
mine to kill.’ Every person in the room could see the writing 
plainly, and yet a moment before nothing was to be seen but 
the plain kalsomined wall. I have seen this writing; it was 
deeply indented in the wall and looked to me as if it had been 
written with a dull instrument, probably a large iron spike. I 
say a dull instrument because the writing had a very uneven 
appearance, and the invisible power that wrote it was certainly 
neither an elegant nor an accomplished penman. It was 
similar in character to mysterious writing I saw during my 
residence in this genuinely haunted house, that was written 
on paper, and then either stuck on the wall with some sticky 
substance by the power or came out of the air and fell at our 
feet. 

The reader can probably imagine their utter amazement at 
what had just taken place. There they stood around the bed of 
this suffering girl, each watching the other, to see that there could 
be no possible mistake about what they saw and heard. They 
all knew that marvellous things had taken place, for each had 
heard and seen them with his or her own eyes and ears. Still 
they dare not trust their own senses; it was all so strange, so 
different from any previous experience they had ever had, or 
heard of others having had; that they were all, without a single 
exception, awed into silence with fear. The terrible words 
written on the wall, ‘Esther Cox, you are min e to kill.’ What 
could their import be? Were they true? What had written 
them? All that was known was that they had heard the wri ting , 
had seen the letters appear,|one by one upon the wall, until the 
sentence was complete; but there their knowledge stopped, and 
everything to their understanding was as blank as the wall had 
beat before the invisible power, that threatened to commit 

372 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

murder, had exposed upon that smooth white surface the 
terrifying sentence in characters nearly a foot in height. 

As Dr. Carritte stood in the door wondering what it all 
meant, a large piece of plaster came flying from the wall of the 
room, turning a comer in its flight, and fell at his feet. The 
good doctor picked it up mechanically, and placed it on a 
chair; he was too much astonished to speak. Just after he had 
placed the piece of plaster on the chair, the fearfully loud 
pounding sounds commenced again with redoubled power, 
this time shaking the entire room and all it contained, includ- 
ing the doctor and other persons. All this time, Esther lay upon 
the bed almost frightened to death. After this state of things 
had continued for about two hours all became quiet, and 
4 Esther, poor girl, went to sleep. The doctor decided not to 
give her any medicine until the next morning, when he said he 
would call and give her something to quiet her nerves. 

As to the sounds, and movements of the bedclothes and 
plaster and the mysterious writing, he could say nothing. He 
had heard and seen, and could not doubt his own senses; but 
had no theory to offer that would solve the unanswerable facts 
all had witnessed in the manifestations of some invisible power 
seeming to possess human intelligence of a very low and most 
demoniacal type. The next mor ning Dr. Carritte called, as he 
had promised, and was greatly surprised to see Esther up and 
dressed, helping Mrs. Teed to wash the breakfast dishes. She 
told him she felt all right again, except that she was so nervous 
that any sudden sound starded her and made her jump. Having 
occasion to go down into the cellar with a pan of milk, she 
came r unning up, out of breath, and stated there was someone 
in the cellar who had thrown a piece of plank at her. The 
doctor went down to see for himself, Esther remaining in the 
dining -room. The cellar stairs being directly under the stair- 
way in the hall, the door to the cellar, of course, opened into 
the dining-room. In a moment he came up again, remarking 
that there was not any person down there to throw a piece of 
plank or anything else. 

‘Esther, come down with me,’ said he. 

They both went down; when to their great surprise, several 
potatoes came flying at their heads; and both ran up the cellar 

373 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

stairs. The doctor immediately left the house, and called again 
in the evening with several very powerful sedatives, morphia 
being one, which he a dmini stered to Esther at about ten 
o’clock, as she lay in bed. She still complained of her nervous- 
ness, and said she felt as though electricity was passing all 
through her body. He had given her the sedative medicine, and 
had just stated that she would have a good night’s rest, when 
the sounds commenced, only they were much louder and in 
more rapid succession than on the previous nights. Presently 
the sounds left the room and were heard distinctly on the roof 
of the house. The doctor instantly left the house and went into 
the street^ where he heard the sounds in the open air. 

On returning to the house he was more nonplussed than 
ever; and informed the family that when in the street it seemed 
as if some person was on the roof with a heavy sledgehammer, 
poun ding away to try and break through the shingles. Being a 
moonli ght night he could see distinctly that there was not any 
person upon the roof. He remained on this occasion until mid- 
night, when all became quiet and he departed, promising to 
call the next day. When he had gotten as far as the front gate, 
the heavy poundings commenced again on the roof with great 
violence, and continued until he had gone about two hundred 
yards from the cottage, at which distance he could still hear 
them distincdy. Dr. Carritte told me this himself. The next 
week it became known throughout Amherst that strange 
manifestations of an unknown power, that was invisible, were 
going on at Daniel Teed’s cottage. The mysterious sounds had 
been heard by people in the street as they passed the house, 
and several accounts had been printed in the Amhe rst Gazette 
and copied in other papers. The pounding sounds now com- 
menced in the morning and were to be heard all day. Poor 
Esther, whom the power had chosen as its victim to kill, always 
felt relieved when the sounds were produced. 

About one month after the commencement of the wonders. 
Rev. Dr. Edwin Clay, the well-known Baptist clergyman, 
called at the house to see and hear the wonders of which he had 
read some accounts in the newspapers, but was desirous of 
seeing and hearing for himself; and he was fortunate enough to 
have his desire fully gratified by hearing the loudest kind of 

374 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

sounds, and seeing the writing on the wall. When he left the 
house he was fully satisfied that Esther did not in any way 
produce the sounds herself, and that the family had nothing 
whatever to do with them. He, however, agreed with Dr. 
Carritte in his theory that her nerves had received a shock of 
some kind, making her, in some mysterious manner, an electric 
battery. His idea being that invisible flashes of lightning left 
her person and that the sounds, which every person could hear 
so distincdy, were simply minute peals of thunder. So con- 
vinced was he that he had ascertained the cause and that there 
was no deception in regard to the manifestations of the power, 
that he delivered lectures on the subject and drew large audi- 
ences. He always nobly defended Esther Cox and the family, 
when charged by unthinking people with fraud, and spoke of 
the affair often from the pulpit. Rev. R. A. Temple, the well- 
known Wesleyan minister, pastor of the Wesleyan Chinch in 
Amherst, which the Teed family attended, also witnessed the 
manifestations. He saw, among other strange things, a bucket 
of cold water become agitated and, to all appearances, boil 
while standing on the kitchen table. 

When the inhabitants of Amherst heard that such eminent 
and worthy men as Rev. Dr. Edwin Clay, Rev. Dr. R. A. 
Temple and the genial and ever popular Dr. Carritte, took an 
interest in the haunted house of Daniel Teed, the shoemaker, 
it became fashionable for even the most exclusive class to call 
at the cottage to hear and see the wonders. They would come 
in parties and many heard the power make the sound who 
would not allow their names to be mentioned in connection 
with the affair. Often while the house was filled with visitors, 
large crowds would stand outside unable to gain admittance 
because there was not room enough inside. On several of these 
occasions, the Amherst police force had to be called out to keep 
order. Dr. Carritte, who continued to be one of the daily callers 
at the cottage, would have a theory one day that would seem to 
account for the sounds he heard and unknown power he wit- 
nessed, and the next day something would occur and upset his 
latest theory so completely that he finally gave up in despair 
and became simply a passive spectator. The power continued 
to manif est itself until December, when Esther, the victim of 

375 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

so much fear and torture, was taken ill with diphtheria and 
rrvnfined to her bed for about two weeks, during which period 
the power ceased to torment her, and all the sounds ceased. 
After she recovered from this illness, she went to Sackville, 
New Brunswick, to visit her other married sister, Mrs. John 
Snowdon, rem aining at her house for about two weeks. The 
power did not follow her; and while there she was free from 
the torture it gave her, when moving about in her abdomen, 
which caused her to swell so fearfully and feel like bursting. 

On returning to Daniel’s cottage, the most startling and 
peculiar features of the power took place. One night while in 
bed with her sister Jennie, in another room, their room having 
been chang ed in hope the power would not follow them, she 
told Jennie that she could hear a voice informing her that the 
house was to be set on fire that night by a ghost. The voice 
stated it had once lived on the earth, but had been dead for 
some years and was now only a ghost. 

The members of the household were at once called in and 
told what Esther had said. They all laughed and informed the 
girls that no such thing as that could possibly have been said, 
because there were no ghosts. Rev. Dr. Clay had stated that all 
the trouble had been caused by electricity. 

‘And’, said Daniel, ‘electricity cannot set the house on fire, 
unless it comes from a cloud in the form of lightning.’ 

To the amazement and consternation of all present, while 
they were talking and laughing about the ridiculous statement 
the girls had made, as having come from the voice of a ghost to 
Esther, all saw a lighted match fell from the ceiling to the bed, 
having come out of the air, which would certainly have set the 
bedclothing on fire, had not Jennie put it . out instantly. 
During the next ten minutes, eight or ten lighted matches fell 
on the bed and about the room, out of the air, but were all 
extinguished before anything could be set on fire by them. 
In the course of the night the loud sounds commenced 
again. 

It seems that about three weeks after Dr. Carritte’s first 
visit to the cottage, Jennie stated that she believed that the 
power that made the sounds and lit the matches could hear 
and understand all that was said and perhaps could see them 

37 6 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 

The moment she had finished the sentence^ three distinct 
reports were heard; and, on Daniel requesting Dr. Carritte to 
ask the power if it could hear, three reports were heard, which 
shook the entire house. Dr. Carritte remarked at the time that 
it was very singular. Daniel then asked if the power could tell 
how many persons were in the room, and not receiving a reply, 
repeated the question in this form, ‘How many persons are in 
the room? Give a knock on the floor for each one.’ 

Six distinct knocks were instantly made by the power; and 
there were just six persons in the room at the time, they being 
Dr. Carritte, x Daniel Teed, his wife, Esther, Jennie, and 
William Cox; John T eed having left the room after poor Esther 
had buried her face in the pillow as she lay in bed, trembling 
with fright. 

The family could now converse with the power in this way. 
It would knock once for a negative answer, and three times for 
an answer in the affirmative, giving only two knocks when in 
doubt about a reply. 

This system of communication had been suggested by a 
visitor. And it was in this way that they had carried on a 
conversation the night the matches fell upon the bed from the 
ceiling. 

Daniel asked if the house would really be set on fire, and the 
reply was ‘Yes’. And a fire was started in about five minutes in 
the following manner. The invisible ghost that had spoken to 
Esther took a dress belonging to her that was hanging on a 
nail in the wall near the door and, after rolling it up and placing 
it under the bed before their eyes, but so quickly that they 
could not prevent the action, set it on fire. Fortunately, the 
dress was at once pulled from under the bed by Daniel, and the 
fire extinguished before any serious damage had been done to 
the material. 

Daniel told me that when the dress was being rolled up and 
put under the bed, they could not see the ghost doing it. All 
was then quiet for the rest of the night; no one daring to go to 
bed, however, for fear another fire would be kindled. 

The next mornin g jail was consternation in the cottage. 
Daniel and his wife were afraid that the ghost would start a 
fire in some inaccessible place, where it could not be ex- 

377 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 
anguished, in which case no one could save the cottage from 
burning to the ground. 

All the family were now fully convinced that the mysterious 
power was really what it claimed to be, the ghost of some very 
evil man who had once lived upon the earth, and in some 
unknown manner managed to torture poor Esther, as only 
such a ghost would. 

Daniel Teed explained the true nature of the torture to 
me, but it must be nameless here. And now to that nameless 
horror was added the fear of their home being destroyed by a 
fire kindled by this demon, with matches stolen from the 
match box in the kitchen, and which could not be hidden 
from him in any part of the house where he could not find 
them. 

About three days after the ghost had tried to set the bed on 
fire by lighting it with the burning dress, Mrs. Teed, while 
churning in the kitchen, noticed smoke issuing from the cellar 
door, which, as I have already explained, opened into the 
dining-room. Esther at the time was seated in the dining-room, 
and had been there for an hour or more, previous to which she 
had been in the kitchen assisting her sister to wash the break- 
fast dishes. 

They both told me, during my residence in the house, that 
when they first discovered the smoke on this occasion they 
were so terrified for the moment that neither of them could 
move. 

Mrs. Teed was the first to recover from the shock, and 
seizing a bucket of drinking water, always kept standing on the 
kitchen table, she rushed down the cellar stairs, and in the far 
comer of the cellar saw a band of shavings blazing up almost 
to the joints of the main floor of the house. In the meantime, 
Esther had reached the cellar and stood as if petrified with 
astonishment. Mrs. Teed poured what water the bucket con- 
tained (for in the excitement she had spilled more than half on 
her way down) into the burning shavings, and both she and 
Esther, being almost choked with smoke, ran up the cellar 
stairs, and out of the house into Princess Street, crying, ‘Fire! 
fire!’ asloudly as they could. 

Their cries aroused the entire neighbourhood. Several men 

378 



THE GREAT AMHERST MYSTERY 
rushed in, and while some smothered the now burning band 
with rugs from the dining-room floor, others put it out entirely 
with water they obtained from a large butt into which the 
rain water ran, and was saved for washing purposes. 

The Amherst Gazette published an account of the fire 
kindled by the power, and as the article was, of course, copied 
throughout Canada, as articles from that admirable paper al- 
ways are, a tremendous sensation was created and genuine 
curiosity aroused. 

Thousands of people who had set the whole affair down as a 
first-class fraud, began to think there might be something in it 
after all; for certainly no young girl could set fire to a band of 
shavings in the cellar and be at the same time in one of the 
rooms above, under the watchful eye of an elder sister, out of 
whose sight she never dared to go for fear the ghost would 
murder her. 

The fact that both the little boys were playing in the front 
yard at the time the fire was started, and consequently could 
not have had any thing to do with setting it, was also calculated 
to throw an air of still greater mystery around the whole 
affair. 

The family and Dr. Carritte alone knew that the fire had 
been started by the ghost. The fire marshals of Amherst were 
of the opinion that, in some unexplained manner, Esther had 
kindled the fire. The inhabitants had various theories. 

Dr. Nathan Tupper, who had never witnessed a single 
manifestation, suggested that if a strong raw-hide whip were 
laid across Esther’s bare shoulders by a powerful arm, the 
tricks of the girl would cease at once. 

During the following week the ghost gave as much evidence 
of power as ever; and the excitement in the village became 
intense. 

[The above extract gives the most interesting facts in the Great 
Amherst case. After this it degenerates, nearly into farce. A few later 
details are to be found, however, in my Examination. Note by S. S.] 


379 



9. A POLTERGEIST CASE FROM SUMATRA 


Reprinted from the Journal of the Society for Psychical 
Research , Vol. XII, May, igo6 


The following is the account of some ‘Poltergeist’ pheno- 
mena witnessed by an associate of the Society, Mr. W. G. 
G., of Dordrecht, Holland, and discussed at the meeting of the 
Society on March 30th, 1906, as reported above. The account 
was accompanied by a number of drawings, not reproduced 
here. These show the construction of the house as described 
in Mr. G.’s letters. All the rooms were on one floor, raised 
above the ground by wooden piles, which passed vertically up 
through the floor and supported the sloping roof. The parti- 
tions between the rooms were wooden frameworks, consisting 
of vertical and horizontal beams, the spaces between which 
were covered with ‘kadjang’ leaves. The rooms were unceiled 
and the partitions between them did not reach up to the roof. 
Mr. G.’s native servant slept in the room next to him, there 
being a wooden door in the partition between the two rooms. 
The point in the roof from which the stones fell was approxi- 
mately over this partition. Mr. G. writes: 1 

Dordrecht, January 2jth, igo6 

... It was in September, 1903, that the following abnormal 
feet occurred to me. Every detail of it has been examined by 
me very carefully. I had been on a long journey through the 
jungle of Palembang and Djambi (Sumatra) with a gang of 
50 Javanese coolies for exploring purposes. Coming back from 

1 At his request we have made a few verbal alterations in those parts 
of the narrative where the English was slightly incorrect or not 
idiomatic. 


380 





THE CASE OF MR. G. IN SUMATRA 

the long trip, I found that my home had been occupied by 
somebody else and I had to put up my bed in another house 
that was not yet ready, and had just been erected from wooden 
poles and lalang or kadjang. The roof was formed of great dry 
leaves of a kind called kadjang in Palembang. These great 
leaves are arranged one overlapping the other. In this way it is 
very easy to form a roof if it is only for a temporary house. This 
house was situated pretty far away from the bore-places 
belonging to the oil company, in whose service I was working. 

I put my bullsack and mosquito curtain on the wooden floor 
and soon fell asleep. At about one o’clock at night I half awoke, 
hearing something fall near my head outside the mosquito cur- 
tain on the floor. After a couple of minutes I completely awoke 
and turned my head around to see what was falling down on 
the floor. They were black stones from | to £ of an inch long. 
I got out of the curtain and turned up the kerosene lamp, that 
was standing on the floor at the foot of my bed. I saw then that 
the stones were falling through the roof in a parabolic line. 
They fell on the floor dose to my head-pillow. I went out and 
awoke the boy (a Malay-Palembang coolie) who was sleeping 
on the floor in the next room. I told him to go outside and to 
examine the jungle up to a certain distance. He did so whilst 
I lighted up the jungle a litde by means of a small ‘ever-ready’' 
dectric lantern. At the same time that my boy was outside the 
stones did not stop falling. My boy came in again, and I told 
him to search the kitchen to see if anybody could be there. He 
went to the kitchen and I went inside the room again to watch 
the stones falling down. I knelt down near [the head of my 
bed] and tried to catch the stones while they were falling 
through the air towards me, but I could never catch them; it 
seemed to me that they changed their direction in the air as 
soon as I tried to get hold of them. I could not catch any of 
them before they fell on the floor. Then I climbed up [the 
partition wall between my room and the boy’s] and examined 
[the roof just above it from which] the stones were flying. They 
came right through the kadjang, but there were no holes in 
the kadjang. When I tried to catch them there at the very spot 
of co ming out, I also failed. 

When I came down, my boy had returned from the kitchen 

381 



THE CASE OF MR. G. IN SUMATRA 

and told me there was nobody. But I still thought that some- 
body might be playing a practical joke, so I took my Mauser 
rifle and fired 5 sharp cartridges into the jungle from [the 
window of the boy’s room]. But the stones, far from stopping, 
fell even more abundantly after my shots than before. 

After this shooting the boy became fully awake (it seemed to 
me that he had been dozing all the time before), and he looked 
inside the room. When he saw the stones fall down, he told me 
it was ‘Satan’ who did that, and he was so greatly scared that 
he ran away in the pitch-dark night. After he had run away the 
stones ceased to fall, and I never saw the boy back again. I did 
not notice anything particular about the stones except that 
they were warmer than they would have been under ordinary 
circumstances. 

The next day, when awake again, I found the stones on the 
floor and every thing as I had left it in the night. I examined the 
roof again, but nothin g was to be found, not a single crack or 
hole in the kadjang. I also found the 5 empty cartridges on the 
floor near the window. Altogether there had been thrown about 
18 or 22 stones. I kept some of them in my pocket for a long 
while, but lost them during my later voyages. 

The worst part of this strange fact was that my boy was gone, 
so that I had to take care of my breakfast myself, and did not 
get a cup of coffee nor toast! 

At first I thought they might have been meteor-stones be- 
cause they were so warm, but then again I could not explain 
how they could get through the roof without making holes ! 1 

In answer to our questions, Mr. G. gave further particulars 
in later letters as follows: 


February xst , 1906 

In the Dutch East Indies this phenomenon seems to happen 
pretty often; at least every now and then it is reported in the 
newspaper, generally concernin g a house in the city. But I 
never gave myself the trouble to examine one of these cases, for 
the simple reason that it is an impossibility to control at the 

same moment all the people that are living around 

Just because the house where I was sleeping was situated all 
alone, far away from other houses, I thought that this case 

382 



THE CASE OF MR. G. IN SUMATRA 

might be of more interest than other similar cases. Let me 
repeat the following particulars of it. 

(1) All around the house was jungle, in front, behind, to the 
left and to the right. 

(2) There was no other soul in the house and kitchen than 
myself and the boy. 

(3) The boy certainly did not do it, because at the same time 
that I bent over him, while he was sleeping on the floor, to 
awake him, there fell a couple of stones. I not only saw them 
fell on the floor in the room, but I also heard them fall, the 
door being at that moment half open. 

(4) While the boy was standing in front of me and I shot my 
cartridges, at that same moment I heard them fall behind me. 

(5) I climbed up the poles of the roof and I saw quite 
distincdy that they came right through the kadjang. 

This kadjang is of such a kind that it cannot be penetrated 
(not even with a needle) without making a hole. Each kad- 
jang is one single flat leaf of about 2 by 3 feet in size. It is a 
speciality of the neighbourhood of Palembang. It is very tough 
and offers a strong resistance to penetration. 

(6) The stones (though not all of them) were hotter than 
could be explained by their having been kept in the hand or 
pocket for some time. 

(7) All the stones without exception fell down within a cer-' 
tain radius of not more than 3 feet; they all came through the 
same kadjang-leaf (that is to say, all the ones I saw) and they all 
fell down within the same radius on the floor. 

(8) They fell rather slowly. Now, supposing that somebody 
mi g ht by trickery have forced them through the roof, or sup- 
posing they had not come through it at all — even then there 
would remain something mysterious about it, because it 
seemed to me that they were hovering through the air; they 
described a parabolic line and then came down with a bang on 
the floor. 

(9) The sound they made in felling down on the floor was 
also abnormal, because considering their slow motion the bang 
was much too loud. 

The same thing had happened to me about a wed: before; 
but on that occasion I was standing outside in the open air near 

383 



THE CASE OF MR. G. IN SUMATRA 

a tree in the jungle, and as it was impossible to control it that 
time (it might have been a monkey that did it), I did not pay 
much attention to it 


February 13th, 1906 

The construction of the house is very different from that of 
European houses. It is all open, as all houses in the East Indies 
are. There was no ceiling in the house. 

The walls forming the rooms did not extend as far up as the 
roof, so that there was an open space between the walls and 
the roof. This last circumstance was the reason why I ex- 
amined the phenomenon so closely and climbed up along the 
vertical poles of the wall up to the roof, to assure myself that the 
stones were not thrown over the wall through the open space. 

The partition between the place where I was sleeping and 
the place where the boy was sleeping was continuous all 
around the four sides of the room, there being a closed door 
between us two. This partition was a wooden framework, with 
kadjang nailed on it, forming that way a solid wall, which did 
not however extend up to the roof (as just described). 

The only wooden floor was formed of 2 inch boards, nailed 
together, there being no holes in the floor. 

I am sure of the date, 1903, because in June, 1903, my sister 
died, and after this strange phenomenon occurred to me, I 
began to ponder whether there might possibly be any connec- 
tion between my sister’s death and the falling stones. After the 
phenomenon had taken place, I bought a book about spiritism, 
to try to find an explanation. Before the phenomenon occurred 
to me I had read nothing about spiritism, but I had often 
thought about it. I am not at all convinced that there was any 
connection between 4 the falling stones and my sister’s death. 
At the moment that the phenomenon occurred to me, I did not 
think about spiritism. 

As I said before, one of my impressions was that the stones 
might have been meteor-stones, on account of their being hot. 
I put them in my pocket and carried them about with me for a 
long time, as there was a geological Professor coming to visit us 
and to inspect our work. I intended to have the stones in- 
spected by him, but before he came the stones had been lost 

384 



THE CASE OF MR. G. IN SUMATRA 

I hope that my plan is plain enough to give you an idea of 
the way in which I watched the stones co ming through the 
roof. I was inside the room, climbed up along the framework 
to the top of the wall, held on with one hand to the framework 
and tried to catch the stones with the other hand, at the same 
time seeing the boy lying down sleeping outside (in the other 
room) on the floor behind the door, the space being lit up by 
means of a lamp in his room. The construction of the house 
was such that it was impossible to throw the stones through 
the open space from outside. 

1 wrote before that it seemed to me that the boy had been 
dozing all the time after I awoke him. I got that impression 
because his movements seemed to me abnormally slow; his 
rising up, his walking around, and everything seemed extra- 
ordinarily slow. These movements gave me the same strange 
impression as the slowly falling stones. 

When I think over this last fact (for I remember very well 
the strange impression the slowly moving boy made on me) I 
feel now inclined to suggest the hypothesis that there might 
have been something abnormal in my own condition at the 
time. For, having read in the Proceedings about hallucinations, 
I dare not state any more that the stones in reality moved 
slowly; it might have been on account of some condition of my 
own sensory organs that it seemed to me that they did, though 
at that time I was not in the least interested in the question of 
hallucinations or of spiritism. I am afraid that the whole thing 
will ever remain a puzzle to me. 

The criticisms on the case made at the meeting of the 
Society on March 30th having been communicated to Mr. 
G., he wrote again on April 3rd, reiterating in further de- 
tail his reasons for thinking it impossible that the boy could 
have thrown the stones without being detected by him; viz. 
that three stones came through the roof while he was touch- 
ing it with his left hand and looking over the top of the 
partition at the boy; again, while he was leaning over the boy 
to awaken him and facing towards the open door leading into 
his own room, he both saw and heard two stones falling there: 
also, while he was shooting into the jungle, the boy standing a 

2 b 385 s -*» 



THE CASE OF MR. G. IN SUMATRA 

little in front of him and to his right, so that he could see if he 
moved, he heard stones falling on the floor behind him. He 
was entirely alone in the house, but for the boy. The coolies 
had brought his instruments and tools there and then gone on 
to the bore-place, about four kilometres from the house, to 
which the boy also went when he ran away. On the first occa- 
sion referred to when he witnessed some stones falling and 
thought they might possibly have been thrown by a monkey, 
another servant was with him — a Soendanese native — whereas 
on the second occasion the boy was a Malay Palembang coolie. 




10. THE WORKSOP AND WEM 
POLTERGEISTS 


Report by Frank Podmore, reprinted from Proceedings of 
the Society for Psychical Research , V 61 . XII 3 June, i8g6 


. April nth , 1883 

At the beginning of March, 1883, the Retford and Gains- 
borough Times and other local papers gave accounts of some 
remarkable disturbances which had occurred in the first two 
or three days of the month, at the house of a small horse- 
dealer in Worksop, named Joe White. One or two members 
of the Society entered into communication with the principal 
persons named in the newspaper reports, and with a friend in 
the neighbourhood, who very kindly took some trouble in 
inquiring into the matter for the Society. But it soon became 
obvious that, as nearly all the witnesses of the occurrences 
related were of the humbler class, and unable, therefore, to 
write a connected account of what had happened, the best way 
to arrive at the truth of the matter was for one of us to go in 
person to make inquiries. Accordingly, at die request of the 
Haunted House Co mmit tee, I went down to Worksop on the 
afternoon of Saturday, April 7th, with the intention of inspect- 
ing the actual scene of the occurrences, and of personally 
interrogating the principal witnesses; in order, if possible, to 
arrive at some rational explanation of the business. I spent the 
Saturday evening, and the whole of the following day in my 
inquiries, and have, I think, obtained as intelligible and trust- 
worthy a history of the matter as the lapse of time, the nature 
of the phenomena themselves, and the character of the wit- 
nesses will permit. 


387 




THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

I derived my information from seven principal eye-witnesses 
of the disturbances, whom I interrogated, with the single ex- 
ception of White himself, separately. I wrote out the statement 
of each witness in full immediately after the interview, and the 
three most important witnesses, Higgs, Currass, and White, 
subsequently read through my notes and signed them. The 
depositions^ these three persons are printed in full below. My 
time was too short to allow a second interview with the four 
other principal witnesses, and I was unable, therefore, to obtain 
their signatures to the depositions; but I have incorporated the 
statements of all the principal witnesses in my report. 

Besides the seven chiefly concerned, I questioned, in presence 
of White and his wife, three or four other witnesses of the 
disturbances, viz.. White’s brother Tom, a bright-looking lad 
of 18 or 20; Solomon Wass and his wife, next-door neighbours 
of the Whites, the former an ordinary North countryman of 
the lower class, the latter a pleasant-looking intelligent woman; 
and George Ford (Buck Ford), a man of about 28. From these 
I obtained general confirmation of the various incidents, as 
described by White, Higgs, etc., at which they had themsdves 
been present; but time did not permit of much cross-question- 
ing, nor of taking down their evidence in full. 

White’s house has been built, according to his own state- 
ment, about seven years. He has only resided in it three years. 
I was unable to discover anything about the former occupants. 
The house stands at the end of a piece of waste land, called 
the New Building Ground, with another house or cottage 
attached; the nearest separate building being a public-house, 
about 100 yards off. With that exception, there are no other 
buildings within about 200 yards. 

There is no entrance to the house by the front, the front 
door being locked, and the joints secured with paper from the 
inside. Entrance is obtained by a covered passage, open at 
either end, which separates the two houses, and gives access 
immediately to a yard, surrounded on one side by high palings, 
and on the other three by piggeries, stables, and the two houses. 
The kitchen is about 15 feet square. The upper floor is di- 
vided into two rooms, the back one, corresponding to the 
kitchen, being used as a bedroom for Tom and the children; 

388 



‘THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 
the front one as a store-house for bacon, horse-furniture, and 
various odds and ends. There is also a garret above this, into 
which I did not enter, it being at the time full of bacon in salt. 
The whole house, not excepting the bedrooms, is hung with 
bacon, the very staircase being lined with it, so that I had to 
draw my coat close to me in going up. A large part of the 
bacon, as I was told by White, had gone bad duriag the period 
of the disturbances. 

The front or inner room on the ground floor was an ordi- 
nary room, like all the rest of the house half-filled with bacon 
and containing, besides bedroom furniture, a large beer- 
barrel on trestles; everything in it filthily dirty. 

I looked all over the house in daylight, but could discern no 
holes in the walls or ceilings, nor any trace of the extensive 
and elaborate machinery which would have been required to 
produce the movements by ordinary mechanical means. 

The history of the disturbances, as gathered from the 
various witnesses whom I interrogated, appears to be briefly 
as follows: 

Nothing remarkable had been seen or heard in the house 
until about the 20th or 21st February, 1883, when, as Mrs. 
White was alone with two of the children in the kitchen one 
evening, washing up the tea-things at the table, the table tilted 
up at a considerable angle; the candle was upset, and the wash- 
tub only saved by Mrs. W. holding it. She positively assured 
me that she exerted no pressure whatever upon the table, 
and the whole incident struck her as very extraordinary. Her 
husband made light of it at the time. 

On Monday, February 26th, White was absent from home 
until the Wednesday afternoon. On the Monday his wife 
allowed a girl, Eliza Rose, the child of an imbecile mother, to 
come into the house and share her bed at night. White re- 
turned on Wednesday night, but left on the following morning 
until Friday afternoon. During that one night the girl slept on 
the squab. On Thursday night, March 1st, at about n p.m., 
Tom White went up to bed — the children having gone up 
some hours before. At about 11.30 Mrs. White and Eliza Rose 
being then alone in the kitchen, various things, such as a cork- 
screw, clothes-peg, a salt-cellar, etc., which had been in the 

389 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

kitchen only a few minutes before, came tumbling step by step 
down the kitchen stairs. Tom positively and solemnly denied 
having thrown the articles, and the mystery was increased 
when, at least 20 minutes after he had gone upstairs, no one 
having left the room in the interval, some hot coals were 
thrown down. 

On the following night, March 2nd, at about the same hour 
— White, Mrs. White, and Rose being in the kitchen — a noise 
was heard as of some one coming down the passage between 
the two houses, and stopping just outside the outer door. 
White told Rose to open the door, but she was too frightened 
to do so. Then they heard a surcingle and immediately after- 
wards some pieces of carpet thrown down the stairs. Then fol- 
lowed some knives and forks and other thing s. The girl picked 
them up; but they followed still faster. White then left the 
room to go up to Tom. During his absence one of the orna- 
ments flew off the mantelpiece into the comer of the room 
near the door. Nothing was seen by the two women; but they 
heard it fall, and found it there. Their screams summoned 
White down; as he entered the room his candle went out, and 
something struck him on the forehead. The girl picked up the 
candle — which appears to have left the candlestick — and two 
new ones which had not been in the house previously, from the 
ground; and as soon as a candle was lit, a little china woman 
left the mantelpiece, and fell into the comer, where it was seen 
by White. As soon as it was replaced it flew across the room 
again, and was broken. Other things followed, and the women 
being very frightened, and White thinking that the disturb- 
ances presaged the death of his child, who was very ill with an 
abscess in the back, sent Tom (who was afraid to go alone) 
with Ford to fetch the doctor. Mrs. White meanwhile took one 
of the children next door. Rose approached the inner room to 
fetch another, when things immediately began to fly about and 
smash themselves in that room. After this all appear to have 
beat absent from the house for a short time. White then 
returned with Higgs, a policeman, and, whilst they were alone 
in the kitchen, standing near the door, a glass jar flew out of the 
cupboard into the yard; a tumbler also fell from the chest of 
drawers in the kitchen, when only Higgs was near it. Both then 

390 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

went into the inner room, and found the chest of drawers 
there turned up on end and smashed. On their return they 
found Rose, Wass, and Tom White in the kitchen [? and Airs. 
Wass], and all saw a cream jug, which Rose had just placed on 
the bin, fly four feet up in the air and smash on the floor. 
Dr. Lloyd and Airs. White then entered, and in the presence 
of all these witnesses, a basin was seen to rise slowly from the 
bin— no person being near it except Dr. Lloyd and Higgs. It 
touched the ceiling, and then fell suddenly to the floor and was 
smashed. This was at 12 p.m. All then left except Tom White 
and his brother. The disturbances continued until about 2 a.m. 
when all grew quiet and the Whites slept. At about 8 a.m., on 
Saturday, the 3rd, the disturbances began again. 

White left the kitchen to attend to some pigs; and, in his 
absence. Airs. White and Rose were left alone in the kitchen. 
A nearly empty port wine bottle leaped up from the table about 
four feet into the air, and fell into a bucket of milk, standing 
on the table, from which Mrs. White was filling some jugs, etc. 

Then Currass appears to have been attracted to the scene. 
He entered with White, young Wass, and others, and viewed 
the inner room. They had but just returned to the kitchen, 
leaving the inner room empty, and the door of co mmuni cation 
open, when the American clock, which hung over the bed, was 
heard to strike. (It had not done so for 18 months previously.) 
A crash was then heard, and Currass, who was nearest the door, 
looked in, and found that the clock had fallen over the bed — 
about four feet broad — and was lying on the floor. 1 Shortly 
afterwards — no one being near it — a china dog flew pff the 
mantelpiece, and smashed itself in the comer near the door. 
Currass and some others then left. 

1 It will be noted that there is a discrepancy between White’s and 
Currass’ version of this incident. Mrs. White, however, confirmed her 
husband’s account; and I have little doubt that the statement in the 
text is substantially accurate. Currass is more likely than White to 
have been mistaken in his recollection of White’s position at the time; 
and Currass’ account of his own position does not differ greatly from 
that given by White. The material point, and one on which both wit- 
nesses are agreed, is that no one saw the clock fall. Currass’ written 
statement is not clear on this point, but he told me viva voce that his 
attention was drawn to what had taken place by hearing the crash. He 
only then turned round and saw the clock lying on the floor. — F.P., 
April, 1883. 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

Some plates, a cream-jug, and other things, then flew up in 
the air, and smashed themselves in view of all who were in the 
kitchen — Rose, the Whites, and Mrs. Wass. 

White then lay down on the sofa; but disturbances con- 
tinued during his siesta. In particular, some pictures on the 
wall next the pantry began to move, but were taken down at 
once by his brother. At about 2 p.m. a Salvation Army woman 
came in, and talked to White. Rose only was with them in the 
kitchen. A candlestick flew from the bin, and fell behind the 
Salvation Army woman, as she stood near the pantry door. 
She left the room in terror. 

Other things then followed at intervals. A full medicine 
botde feil without breaking. An empty medicine bottle and a 
lamp-glass fell and broke themselves. It was then about 4 p.m., 
and White could stand it no longer. He told the girl she must 
go; she did in fact leave before 5 p.m. After her departure 
no thing whatever of an abnormal character took place, and the 
house has remained undisturbed up to the present time. 

With regard to the positions of the persons present, in rela- 
tion to the objects moved, it may be stated generally that there 
was no possibility in most cases of the objects having been 
thrown by hand. It will be seen, on reference to the depositions 
of the witnesses which are appended, that the objects were 
frequently moved in a remote comer of the room, or even in 
an adjoining room. Moreover, the character of the movements, 
in many cases, was such as to preclude the possibility of the 
objects having been thrown. 

Of course the obvious explanation of these occurrences is 
trickery on the part of some of the persons present. In regard 
to this, it seems to me a matter of very little significance that 
most of the educated people in Worksop believe White him- 
self to have caused the disturbance. For most educated per- 
sons, as we know, would not be ready to admit any other than a 
mechanical explanation, and if such an explanation be adopted. 
White, the owner of the house, a man of considerable intelli- 
gence, whose record was not entirely dean, and who was him- 
self present on the occasion of nearly all the disturbances, 
must obviously be the agent. But whilst believing White to 
be at the bottom of the matter, none of the persons with whom 

392 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

I conversed were prepared with any explanation of his modus 
operandi. That he should have thrown the things was univer- 
sally admitted to be impossible. And beyond this, I could dis- 
cover little more than an unquestioning faith in the omni- 
potence of electricity. No one professed to have any idea of 
what mechanical means could have been employed, or how 
they could have been adapted to the end in view. Still less did 
any one pretend to have discovered any indications in the 
house itself of any machinery having been used. Moreover, 
there was a total absence of any apparent motive on White’s 
part, supposing him to have been capable of effecting the 
movements himself. Whilst he was unquestionably a consider- 
able loser — to the extent of nearly £g as estimated by himself, 
though this estimate is probably exaggerated — by the articles 
broken, he appears to have reaped no corresponding advan- 
tage. The one motive which I heard suggested— if we dis- 
regard a report in one newspaper, subsequently contradicted 
in another, to the effect that White was anxious to buy the 
house, and to buy it cheap — was that he produced the dis- 
turbances in fulfilment of a sporting bet. But I saw no reason 
to regard this explanation as anything but a scholium evolved 
by some ingenious commentator from the facts themselves. 

Again, had White himself been the principal agent in the 
matter, it is clear that he must have had at least two confederates, 
for he was not himself present during the disturbances on the 
Thursday night— which might, indeed, have been caused by 
his brother Tom — nor was either he or his brother present 
during some of the occurrences on the following day. More- 
over, these; confederates must not only have been extremely 
skilful, but they must have been capable of more than ordinary 
reticence and self-control. For it is remarkable that, with the 
single exception of the statements made by the girl Rose, no 
one professed to have heard even a hint from White himself, 
from his brother, or from any other, of any trickery in the 
matter. 

Moreover, it is hard to conceive by what mechanical appli- 
ances, under the circumstances described, the movements 
could have been effected. The clock, for instance— a heavy 
American one — was thrust out from the wall in a horizontal 

393 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

direction, so as apparently to clear a 4-foot bedstead which lay 
immediately beneath it, and the nail from which it depended 
r emain ed in situ on the wall. The objects thrown about in the 
kitchen moved generally, but by no means always, in the direc- 
tion of the outer door. And it is noticeable that, in most cases, 
they do not appear to have been thrown, but in some manner 
borne or wafted across the room; for, though they fell on a 
stone floor 15 ft. or 16 ft. distant, they were often unbroken, 
and were rarely shivered. And it is impossible to reconcile the 
account given of the movements of some other objects, 
variously described as ‘jerky’, ‘twirling’, and ‘turning over and 
over’, with the supposition that the objects depended on any 
fixed support, or were in any way suspended. 

Lastly, to suppose that these various objects were all moved 
by mechanical contrivances argues incredible stupidity, 
amounting almost to imbecility, on the part of all the persons 
present who were not in the plot. That the movement of the 
arms necessary to 'set the machinery in motion should have 
passed unobserved on each and every occasion by all the wit- 
nesses, is almost impossible. Not only so, but Currass, Higgs, 
and Dr. Lloyd, all independent observers, assured me that they 
examined some of the objects which had been moved, im- 
mediately after the occurrence, with the express intention of 
discovering, if possible, any clue to - an explanation of the 
matter, but entirely failed to do so. These men were not over- 
credulous; they certainly were not wanting in intelligence; and 
they were not, any of them, prepossessed in favour of White. 
But they each admitted that they could discover no possible 
explanation of the disturbances, and were fairly bewildered by 
the whole matter. 

STATEMENT OF JOE WHITE 1 

I returned home about 7 on the Friday night (March 2nd). 
I had been absent from home on Monday and Tuesday nights: 
and it was during my absence that my wife took in the girl 

1 A feir witness. I think that he always intended to speak the truth, 
but that occasionally his memory proved treacherous. In all important 
points, however, he was corroborated by his wife (an excellent wit- 
ness), Higgs, and Currass . — F . P. 

394 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

Rose* who shared her bed in the front inner room. I slept at 
home on Wednesday, and the girl then slept on the squab in 
the kitchen. I left again on Thursday morning, and returned as 
mentioned on the Friday. 

When told by my wife and Tom what had happened on 
Thursday night, I said some one must have been tricking, and 
didn’t think much more about it. But I chaffed the lass (Rose) 
a good deal, for she was much frightened. About 11.30 on 
Friday evening, when my wife, the girl, and I were alone in the 
kitchen, just going up to bed, I heard a noise as if some one had 
come down the passage between the two houses, and were 
standing just outside our door. They didn’t knock; but I said 
to Rose, ‘Go and see who’s there.’ But she was frightened and 
didn’t go. Then presently a lot of things came rattlin g down 
the stairs. I don’t know what came first; but a lot of things 
came — a surcingle, bits of carpet, knives and forks, a cork- 
screw, etc. The girl went to pick them up, and put than on the 
table, and just as fast she she put them on more things came 
down. Then my wife said to me, ‘The salt cellar came down 
last night, but you won’t have it down to-night, for here it is 
on the table.’ She was using it at the time for salting Tom’s 
dinner for the next day. She had hardly said this, when the 
salt cellar flew off from the table, and into the comer near the 
outer door. Rose was in that comer, and not near the table: 
my wife was at the table, but certainly didn’t touch the cellar. 
I saw the thing go, though I couldn’t believe my eyes. My 
wife didn’t see it go, but we both saw it as it struck the wall in 
the comer. All the salt was spilt out of it. I fairly couldn’t 
believe my own eyes; but I couldn’t help thinking it must be 
Tom. So I went upstairs to him, and told him to leave off. 
‘Thou’lt frighten our Liz to death.’ He said, ‘It’s not me, Joe. 
I’ll take my oath it isn’t. I’ve never thrown nowt down.’ 
Whilst I was still talking to him, I heard a crash downstairs; 
and the women scr eame d; and my wife cried, ‘Come down, 
Joe.’ As I was just coming into the room the candle which I 
held in my hand went out — I don’t know how at all — and we 
were left in darkness, except for the firelight. Then something 
hit me on the forehead, and I cried out, ‘Who threw that?’ 
Then there was a crash in the comer. I found out when we had 

395 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 
a %ht a gain, that the salt cellar had fallen again into the cOf“ 
ner and broken itself. Then I found out that the candle was 
not in the candlestick, and asked where it was. I told the girl 
to look for it, and then she felt among the things at the bottom 
of the stairs and picked up three candles, two of them quite 
new. We had only had two candles in the house [Mrs. White 
expressly confirmed this. — F. P.] which had been bought just 
before, and both had been partly burnt. I lit the old ones and 
left the new ones on the table; but they disappeared after- 
wards, and I have never seen them since. 

When the candle was lit again, I saw the little china woman 
jump off from the mantelpiece, and go into the same comer. 
It fell on its side, and then righted itself, and stood upright, 
unbroken. I distinctly saw it go through the air; it passed near 
me as I stood about the middle of the room. None of us were 
near the mantelpiece. I picked it up, and presently it fell into 
the comer again, and broke itself. Then the tea-caddy and the 
candlestick, all from the mantelpiece, followed. Then I went 
out and found George Ford (‘Buck’ Ford), and asked him to 
fetch Dr. Lloyd for the child — for they had told me that all 
this disturbance meant the death of the child, who was very ill 
with an abscess in its back. 

Then I got my wife to take the little lad out, and lay him 
next door, he lying on the squab in the kitchen at the time. 
[Mrs. W. denied this, and said he was in the inner room. — F„ 
P.] Rose went with her, and they took all the children with 
them. Before going. Rose had to go into the inner room, and 
then things began to fly about there and make a disturbance. 
All had been quiet there before. 

I went after the others into the next house and stayed there 
some litde time. When I came back, I found Police-Constable 
Higgs in the kitchen. He and I were alone there. (Rose all this 
time was next door.) We heard a crash in the inner room, and 
we went in — Solomon Wass and Tom, who had just entered, 
with us, and Higgs with his lantern, — and we found'the chest 
of drawers turned up on end, and the lustres and looking- 
glass, and everything else that had been on it, in pieces on the 
floor. Then we came bach into the kitchen, and we saw the 
cupboard door open, and a big glass jar flew out, and flew into 

396 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 
the yard and broke itself. Also some thing s flew off the bin at 
the side of the door, from the end near the fire; and they 
pitched in the comer, and then went out in the yard. Things 
often pitched on the floor by the door first, and then got up 
again and flew out into the yard. 

Then Dr. Lloyd came in with my wife, and Hig gs showed 
him what had happened in the inner room. Then when we had 
got into the kitchen again, and were all standing near the door 
of the inner room — Higgs, my wife, and Tom, and Wass, and 
Lloyd — who was about six feet from the bin, and the nearest 
to it of our party — we all saw a basin which was lying on the 
bin near the door, get up two or three times in the air, rising 
slowly a few inches or perhaps a foot and then falling plump. 
[Mrs. W. corroborated this, and so did Mr. Wass, the next- 
door neighbour, who was also present. — F. P.] Then it got up 
higher, and went slowly, wobbling as it went up to the ceiling, 
and when it had reached the ceiling, it fell down all at once, and 
broke itself. 1 Dr. Lloyd then looked in the bin, saying the devil 
must be in the house, and then left. All the others shortly 
afterwards left, Mrs. W., Rose and the children stopping in the 
next house. Tom and I sat in the chair on either side of the 
fire until the next morning at 8 a.m. Things kept on moving 
every now and then until about 2 a.m., and then was all quiets 
and we got to sleep a bit. At about 8 a.m. I had to go out to see 
after a pig which had been pigging, and then things began 
again; and a lot of folks came in to see about it. Currass came 
in and I went with him into the inner room and showed him 
the chest of drawers, he and I alone; we came out leaving the 
door open — I am quite sure it was open — and I was sitting 
near the fire, and Currass was just inside the kitchen, not far 
from the open door, when Wass’s little lad, who was sitting at 
the table, said, ‘There’s the clock striking,’ mea ning the big 
dock which hung over our bed. I couldn’t hear it, and I said it 
was a lie. Just then we heard a crash, and I asked what it was, 
and Currass looked round, and said it was the American dock 
had fallen right across the bed, and lay on the floor at the foot, 
with its bottom knocked out. Then I took it into the yard, I 

1 During this scene the room was lighted by one candle, Higgs’ 
lantern, and a blazing fire; so that the light was pretty good. 

397 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 
think— indeed, I am sure, that Coulter was not here when all 
this happened. The other clock fell and was broken, but 
whether before or after I cannot remember; and he may have 
seen that. I don’t remember where the girl Rose was when the 
American dock fell. She may have been in the kitchen, but she 
cer tainly wasn’t in the inner room; no one was in that room, I 
am sure. 1 don’t remember saying just at that time, though I 
often did say, that wherever she went the things smashed. 

After that, Currass and I and one or two others were stand- 
ing near to the outer door talking, when the china dogs, or one 
of them, flew off the mantelpiece and smashed; and lots of things 
kept on flying into the comer and smashing. I saw one of the 
dogs leave the mantelpiece and go through the air. I don’t 
remember exactly when Coulter came; he may have been here 
when the china dog was smashed, but I don’t remember that 
he was. Then a cream jug fell off the table; it had don,e so four 
or five times without smashin g . At last I filled it with milk, and 
had placed it on the bin, when it suddenly fell off and smashed, 
and the milk was all spilt. 

Then I was tired, and lay down on the squab; but things 
kept moving. I was told some pictures on the wall began to 
move, but I didn’t see them. At about 2 p.m., a Salvation Army 
woman came in and was talking to me as I lay on the squab; 
she stood near the inner door; Rose was near the outer door, 
having brought in some carpet. There were two candlesticks 
on the bin, at the end near the fireplace. Suddenly some thing 
dropped behind the Salvation Army woman. No one saw it 
going through the air; but we turned round and found that it 
was one of the brass candlesticks. It was half balanced on the 
small end where the candle goes, and was wobbling about on 
the end. Then the Salvation woman said, ‘I must go’; and she 
went. 

Then a little after, when Rose was going to lay down the 
carpet, and no one else in the room, a medicine botde full, fell 
from the bin on to the roll of carpet, about three or four yards 
off, and was broken. A lamp-glass had fallen several times 
without breaking; but at last that fell and broke. Then an 
empty bottle flew off from the mantelpiece. That was one of 
the last things that happened. Well then, I couldn’t stand it any 

398 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

longer. Wherever the lass seemed to go, things seemed to fly 
about. So I said to her, ‘You’ll have to go.’ She began to roar. 
But my wife gave her some tea, and she went. That was be- 
tween 4 and 5 p.m., very soon after the last disturbance. 
Not hing happened after she left. We sat up in the kitchen that 
evening, a lot of us, as the newspapers tell; but nothing hap- 
pened at all. 

I have been in the house three years. I think the house had 
been built four or five years before that. Nothing of the kind 
had ever happened in it before, as fax as I know, except 
that once I thought I heard some one moving in the yard, 
and fancied it might be some one after the fowls; but there 
was no one there; and there was that strange tilting of the 
table when my wife was washing up the thing s about a week 
before. 

The Wasses and the Willises [Mrs. Willis is Wass’s sister] 
had lived together in the next house; but since all these dis- 
turbances, the Willises have left the house; but Mr. and Mrs. 
Wass are still there. 

(Signed) Joseph White 

New Building Ground, Worksop 
April 8th, 1883 

STATEMENT OF POLICE CONSTABLE HIGGS 1 

On the night of Friday, March 2nd, I heard of the disturb- 
ances at Joe White’s house from his young brother, Tom. I 
went round to the house at 11.55 P- m -j as near as I can judge, 
and found Joe White in the kitchen of his house. There was 
one candle lighted in the room, and a good fire burning, so 
that one could see things pretty clearly. The cupboard doors 
were open, and White went and shut them, and then came and 
stood against the chest of drawers. I stood near the outer door. 
No one else was in the room at the time. White had hardly shut 
the cupboard doors when they flew open, and a large glass jar 
ramp out past me, and pitched in the yard outside, smashing 

1 A man of good intelligence, and believed to be entirely honest. 
Fully alive, as becomes his official position, to White’s indifferent 
reputation, but unable to account for what he saw. — F. P. 

399 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

itself. I didn’t see the jar leave the cupboard, or fly through the 
air; it went too quick. But I am quite sure that it wasn’t thrown 
by White or any one else. White couldn’t have done it without 
my seeing him. The jar couldn’t go in a straight line from the 
cupboard out of the door; but it certainly did go. 

Then White asked me to come and see the things which had 
been smashed in the inner room. He led the way and I fol- 
lowed. As I passed the chest of drawers in the kitchen I 
noticed a tumbler standing on it. Just after I passed I heard a 
crash, and looking round, I saw that the tumbler had fallen on 
the ground in the direction of the fireplace, and was broken. I 
don’t know how it happened. There was no one else in the 
room. 

I went into the inner room, and saw the bits of pots and 
things on the floor, and then I came back with White into the 
kitchen. The girl Rose had come into the kitchen during our 
absence. She was standing with her back against the bin near 
the fire. There was a cup standing on the bin, rather nearer 
the door. She said to me, ‘Cup’ll go soon; it has been down 
three times already.’ She then pushed it a little farther on the 
bin, and turned round and stood talking to me by the fire. 
She had hardly done so, when the cup jumped up suddenly 
about four or five feet into the air, and then fell on the floor 
and smashed itself. White was sitting on the other side of the 
fire. 

Then Mrs. White came in with Dr. Lloyd; also Tom "White 
and Solomon Wass. After they had been in two or three 
minutes, something else happened. Tom White and Wass 
were standing with their backs to the fire, just in front of it. 
Eliza Rose and Dr. Lloyd were near them, with their backs 
turned towards the bin, the Doctor nearer to the door. I stood 
by the drawers, and Mrs. White was by me near the inner door. 
Then suddenly a basin, which stood -on the end of the bin 
near the door, got up into the air, turning over and over as it 
went It went up not very quickly, not as quickly as if it had beat 
thrown. When it reached the ceiling it fell plump and smashed. 
I called Dr. Lloyd’s attention to it, and we all saw it. No one 
was near it, and I don’t know how it happened. I stayed about 
ten minutes more, but saw nothing else. I don’t know what to 

400 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

make of it all. I don’t think White or the girl could possibly 
have done the things which I saw. 

(Signed) William Higgs, G.E. 30 

April ioth, 1883 

STATEMENT OF ARTHUR CURRASS, COAL -MINER 1 

1 had to go out on the Saturday morning (March 3rd) to get 
some swill for the pig, about 8.15 a.m. I passed by White’s 
house, and hearing a disturbance, I looked over the railings, 
and White said to me, ‘There’s something in the house that’s 
breaking all afore it.’ I asked him what it were, and he told me 
to come and see. I got over the railings, and I followed White 
into his own house. He took me into the front place where the 
dock was hanging over the bed’s head, and was showing me 
a nest of drawers, where his suit of clothes came out of the 
bottom drawer into the top one but one. While I was looking 
at the drawer, and the broken pots there was lying there, the 
dock by some means came from the wall, slantingwise about 
seven feet and dropped dear of the bed’s foot on to the floor. 
It had been fastened up on the wall, near the bed’s head, and it 
fell between the bed’s foot and the door. I said, ‘What is that?’ 
White said, ‘It’s something else smashed.’ I turned round and 
saw that it was the clock. The nail still remained in the wall. 
The girl Rose was coming out of the kitchen towards the inner 
door, but had not got quite up to it. She seemed to be much 
frightened. White said to me, ‘It doesn’t matter a damn where 
that lass goes, there’s something smashes.’ The dock was taken 
right away into the yard and placed on an empty cask, and 
there it stayed. White and I were alone in the front room when 
the clock fell. White and I then went into the back kitchen, 
and I remained about four feet from the outer door, with 
my face towards the fireplace. I then saw a pot dog leap from 
the mantelpiece, and come within five feet of the pantry door 
and break, passing close to me. There was nothing attached to 
it, and there was no one near it. I then began to move away, 
and just then Coulter appeared. This would be between 8.30 

1 A Methodist, and apparently a very steady, respectable man. 
Believed that White did it, but couldn’t guess how it was done. — F. P. 

2 c 401 s . p . 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

and 8.45 a.m. Coulter had not come before whilst I was there, 
and certainly had not been present when the dock and the dog 
were broken. The dock was in the yard when he came, and I 
showed it him there. 

(Signed) Arthur Currass 

John Street , Worksop 
April 8th , 1883 

I have given the evidence in this instance at considerable — 
perhaps tedious — length, because, of all the cases which have 
been investigated by representatives of the Sodety, it is, as it 
stands, one of the most difficult to harmonize with any 
explanation by ordinary material causes. The concordant 
testimony of so many honest and fairly intelligent persons 
certainly produced, as will have been seen from my report, 
a strong impression on my mind at the time. Nor do I see 
reason now to question my original estimate of their intelli- 
gence and good faith. If my verdict on the Worksop disturb- 
ances in 1896 differs from that which I gave in 1883, it is 
because many things have happened since, which have taught 
us to discount testimony in matters of this kind. 

For it will be seen that the value of these reports, as testify- 
ing to the operation of some supernormal agency, depends 
wholly upon two assumptions, first, that the various witnesses 
— imperfectly educated persons, not skilled in accurate obser- 
vation of any kind — correctly described what they saw: and, 
second, that after an interval of more than five weds, d uring 
which time the experiences had been discussed and compared 
and gaped at by every village fireside, and in the public press, 
they correctly remembered what they described. But in the 
course of the 13 years which have passed since I wrote my 
report, we have received some striking object-lessons demon- 
strating the incapacity of the ordinary unskilled observer to 
detect trickery or sleight-of-hand: and we have learnt to dis- 
trust the accuracy of the unaided memory in recording feats 
of this kind, especially when performed under circumstances 
of considerable excitement. 

And, indeed, if we scrutinize the account as it stands, we 
shall find various discrepancies and contradictions in the evi- 

402 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

dence. (i) Thus, according to White, Higgs and he went into 
the front room first, to see the damage done there, and on their 
return to the kitchen, a glass jar flew out of the cupboard. But 
according to Higgs’ version, it was after seeing the glass jar fly 
through the air that White and he went into the inner room. 
(2) White’s account is that two or three witnesses were present 
when the glass jar flew out; Higgs says, ‘that no one else was in 
the room at the time’. (3) There seems to be a doubt as to 
whether Rose entered the kitchen during Higgs’ visit. White 
does not mention her entrance at all. Higgs says they found her 
in the kitchen on their return from the inner room. (4) Currass 
says he was in the inner room on the mornin g of the 3rd when 
the clock fell. White says that Currass was in the kitchen. 
(5) Again, White cannot remember where Rose was at the 
time of the incident; whilst Currass says she was near the inner 
door. (6) White and Currass agree that Coulter was not present 
when the American clock fell and was smashed. Now Coulter, 
whom I saw, and who impressed me favourably as an honest 
man, stated that he was present when the clock fell, and also 
during the immediately succeeding disturbances in the kitchen. 1 2 

Such are some of the discrepancies which appear in the 
evidence even as prepared and taken down from the lips of the 
witnesses by a too sympathetic reporter. It is probable that 
more and more serious discrepancies and contradictions would 
have been found if there had been no speculation and con- 
sultation and comparison in the interval of five weeks; and if 
each witness at the end of that time had written an independent 
account of the incidents. 

It would be idle, in the circumstances and at this distance, to 
speculate on the real cause of these disturbances. But it is to 
be noted that Eliza Rose — the daughter of an imbecile mother 
— was present, by all accounts, at most of the disturbances; 
that they began shortly after her entrance to the cottage and 
ceased with her departure; and that she was regarded by White 
himself as the prime cause of all that happened. And if one 

1 Coulter’s evidence was omitted from the account given in the 
text, originally printed in the Journal of the Society, as I did not at 
the time sufficiently realize its importance, and came to the con- 
clusion that the man was telling a deliberate falsehood. 

2 c 2 403 ■ s.p. 



THE WORKSOP POLTERGEIST 

apparently honest witness could describe himself as having 
seen occurrences that he knew of only by hearsay; if others 
could be mistaken as to the sequence of important events, and 
the presence or absence at given times of particular persons; 
it is perhaps not unreasonable to conjecture that the statements 
made by White and others that some abnormal movements 
took place during Rose’s absence may have been incorrect, and 
that Rose herself, as the instrument of mysterious agencies, or 
simply as a half-witted girl gifted with abnormal cunning and 
love of mischief, may have been direcdy responsible for all 
that took place. 

In the next case we have clear evidence that some, at least, 
of the phenomena which puzzled those who witnessed them, 
and gave rise to suspicions of preternatural agency, were due 
simply to sleight-of-hand on the part of a young uneducated 
village girl. 


THE WEM CASE 

The subjoined extract from a daily paper gives an account 
of some mysterious disturbances at a Shropshire village, in 
November, 1883. 

‘A series of occurrences which have caused great excitement 
in the neighbourhood of Leebotwood, and no small specula- 
tion and wonder in the adjacent town of Shrewsbury, have 
just taken place. At a secluded farm called “The Woods”, 
which is about a mile and a half from Toppington and nine or 
ten from Shrewsbury, resides a farmer named Hampson, and 
about four o’clock one afternoon, at the latter end of last week, 
the servants were in the kitchen of the farmhouse, preparing 
tea. On the fire was a saucepan in which were some eggs boil- 
ing, and this “jumped”, as the girls declared, off the fire, while 
the tea things were thrown from the table and smashed. Some 
of the hot cinders were also thrown out of the grate, and set 
fire to some clothes in a basket. So far, the explosion of some 
material in the grate might have been sufficient to account for 
the occurrence; but what is said to have occurred subsequently 
will not bear such an explanation. On the table was a par affin 
lamp, with a globe, and the globe was “lifted” off the stand 

404 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

and thrown across the room, the lamp itself being left on the 
table. A mat under the lamp took fire, and the inmat es of the 
house becoming alarmed, then ran out for the neighbours. 
Among others who went to the house was a Mr. Lea, an 
adjacent farmer, who states that when he approached die 
house it seemed as if all the upstairs rooms were on fire, “as 
there was such a light in the windows”. Mr. Hampson con- 
sequently went upstairs and made an examination, but every- 
thing there was safe, and in the usual order. As thing s were 
continuing to jump about the kitchen in a manner which was 
altogether inexplicable, and many were getting damaged, 
Hampson decided to remove everything that was in that apart- 
ment outside. He accordingly took down a barometer from the 
wall, when something struck him on the leg, and a loaf of 
bread which was on the table was thrown by some invisible 
means and hit him on the back. A volume of Pilgrim's Progress 
was thrown or “jumped” through the window, and a large 
ornamental sea-shell went through in a s imil ar fashion. In the 
parlour a sewing machine was thrown about and damaged, and 
has had to be sent to be repaired. The nurse-girl was nursing 
the baby by the fire when some fire leapt from the grate, and 
the child’s hair was singed and its arms burnt. The girl was 
so alarmed that she set off to a neighbour’s, and on the way 
there her clothes took fire, and had to be tom from her body. 
During the evening, while the girl was at the neighbour’s, a 
plate which she touched while having her supper was appar- 
ently thrown on the floor, and the pieces were picked up by some 
unseen agency, and put in the centre of the table. Other occur- 
rences are said to have taken place in the neighbour’s house 
while the nurse-girl was there, the whole lasting considerably 
over half an hour. As no one could explain the cause of what 
they witnessed, the police were communicated with, and 
made full inquiries from the inmates of the house and others, 
the result being that they ordered the coal to be consumed in 
the open air, believing it to contain some explosive substance, 
but it burnt quietly away. Those who witnessed these occur- 
rences tell a marvellously straightforward story, and curiously 
enough none of them attributed it to any supernatural cause, 
as might have been expected in a quiet country locality, but 

405 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

they say it was “something in the coal or in the air”, while one 
or two fancy it was some electrical phenomena/ 

Subsequently, the same paper states, their ‘Shrewsbury cor- 
respondent telegraphs that he paid another visit to Weston 
Lullingfield yesterday, and was informed that on Saturday and 
Sunday there were more extraordinary manifestations in 
connection with the girl Emma Davies. Police-constable 
Taylor, of the Shropshire Constabulary, remained in the 
house until late on Saturday. During the time he was there the 
fender moved from the fireplace into the middle of the room, 
and on being replaced, came forward a second and third time. 
A cushion placed at the back of a chair on which the girl sat 
several times flew across the room, and all the stitches in her 
apron came undone, followed later on by the buttons upon her 
dress being wrenched off. Miss Maddox, the village school- 
mistress, made a statement to the correspondent to the effect 
that she called to see the girl, a former pupil, on Saturday 
evening, and had not long been seated when she observed both 
the chair and the girl rise from the floor. She took the girl on 
her lap and sat in the chair herself, and immediately the girl’s 
boots flew off, and although replaced, the circumstance was 
twice repeated. On Sunday a box in a bedroom was hurled 
across the room, and a number of cups and saucers were 
smashed.’ 


REPORT BY MR. F. S. HUGHES 

( 

December 3rd , 1883 

During the first and -second weeks of November, 1883, 
accounts were to be seen in the London and local papers of 
strange phenomena stated to have taken place at Wood’s Farm, 
near Wem, and other houses in the neighbourhood. 

These phenomena could not apparently be accounted for by 
ordinary physical laws, and it seemed therefore very desirable 
that the stories should be thoroughly sifted on behalf of the 
Society for Psychical Research. 

The scene of the first series of these phenomena was Wood’s 
Farm, and the time, the afternoon of Thursday, November 1st. 
A nurse-girl at the farm, named E mma Davies, was connected 

406 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

in some way with the disturbances by the occupiers, and she 
was accordingly dismissed and sent to her home at a village 
called WestonLullingfield, about five miles off. Here the singu- 
lar phenomena appeared shortly after her arrival, and the 
affair began to attract very general attention. 

On Friday, the 9th, the girl, who seems to have got into a 
very nervous state, was taken to a branch establishment at 
Wem, of Dr. Corke, of Baschurch, and kept in strict sedusion, 
at the same time being closdy watched by the housekeeper. 
Miss Turner. 

On the following Thursday the Daily News and the Daily 
Telegraph both had long reports, stating that the girl had con- 
fessed to having wrought all these wonders by very ordinary 
sleight-of-hand. 

As, however, these accounts did litde to explain away the 
phenomena which had taken place according to the previous 
newspaper reports, I was asked by the Sodety for Psychical 
Research to go down to Shropshire to investigate the evidence 
on which the original stories rested, and to see whether they 
could really be accounted for satisfactorily by the girl’s alleged 
trickery. 

On Saturday, the 17th November, I proceeded to Wem and 
shortly after my arrival called at the doctor’s house, and saw 
Miss Turner, Dr. Mackey, the assistant of Dr. Corke, not 
being at home. 

Miss Turner is a lady of about 30 years of age, who appeared 
to be a practical, shrewd person, not at all excitable, and she 
gave her evidence in a very straightforward manner. 

C alling again, later on in the evening, I saw Dr. Mackey, 
who is a young Scotchman, of about 27 or 28, and who seemed 
nervously anxious not to give any evidence about which he had 
any doubt. 

I am quite confident that the girl was well treated while 
living with them, and was subjected to no undue influence. 

I made notes of the evidence they were able to give me on the 
subject, and obtained their signatures to my account after they 
had heard it read to them. 

Briefly their account is: That certain manifestations took 
place, similar in character to those that preceded them, and for 

407 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

two or three days they were quite unable to detect any fraud, 
though no manif estation ever took place when the girl was not 
in such a position that she might have produced them by 
ordinary trickery. 

Thus, in the presence of Dr. Mackey and Miss Turner a 
piece of bread jumped across the room, the girl not being 
actually seen to throw it. On another occasion when Miss 
Turner had left the room, the girl suddenly screamed, and 
when Miss T. returned a pair of slippers were on the sofa 
which had just before been seen on the hearthrug. -Again, 
when Miss T. had just turned her back to the girl, the usual 
scream was heard, and turning round Miss T. saw a bucket in 
the air descending to the ground. A knife on another occasion 
was thrown across the room, being in the air when Dr. Corke’s 
servant was entering the room. 

On Tuesday morning, however. Miss Turner was in an 
upper room at the bach of the house, and the servant of the 
establishment and Emma Davies were outside, Emma having 
her back to the house, and unaware that she was observed. 
Miss Turner noticed that Emma Davies had a piece of brick 
in her hand held behind her back. This she threw to a distance 
by a turn of the wrist, and while doing so, screamed to attract 
the attention of the servant, who, of course, turning round saw 
the brick in the air, and was very much frightened. Emm a 
Davies, looking round, saw that she had been seen by Miss 
Turner, and apparently imagining that she had been found 
out, was very anxious to return home that night. 

Miss Turner took no notice of the occurrence at the time, 
but the next morning (Wednesday) she asked the girl if she 
had been playing tricks, and the girl confessed that she had, 
and went through some of the performances very skilfully, 
according to Miss Turner’s account. 

Later on in the day she repeated these in the presence of the 
doctor. Miss Turner, and the two reporters from London, but 
Miss Turner said nothing like so well. 

Dr. Mackey further gave me an account of a conversation 
which he had had with Emma Davies, chiefly with reference 
to some of the extraordinary stories that had appeared in the 
papers. 


40S 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

One of these stories was that after the girl’s return to her 
father’s house, she was in the habit of assisting her sister in 
household work. One day they were putting clothes out on the 
hedge to dry, but those placed by Emma Davies refused to 
remain on the hedge, and ‘jumped over into the road’. 

With reference to this, the statement of Emma Davies, as 
reported by Dr. Mackey, was as follows: ‘They put the clothes 
on the hedge, and then returned to the house, nothing unusual 
having occurred. On going outside again, the linen was found 
on the ground, two little boys being seen running away.’ She 
was quite confident that she did not see the thing s going off 
the hedge. 

Several of the other stories were similarly disposed of by her. 
Thus, when the windows were broken at her father’s cottage 
and farm, there were a lot of men and boys standing about out- 
side. 

The girl always denied that she had produced the various 
phenomena at Wood’s Farm and Weston Lullingfield, but 
Dr. Mackey thought that she had been carefully primed not to 
‘let on’ about this. 

Dr. Mackey added that the girl’s physical and mental con- 
dition was quite normal, so far as he could ascertain. 

On the following morning I drove over to Wood’s Farm, 
which is about five or six miles distant from Wem, and there 
obtained evidence of the following witnesses: 

Mr. and Mrs. Hampson, their servant girl, Priscilla Evans, 
Mr. and Mrs. Lea, of a neighbouring farm, and the waggoner 
at Wood’s Farm, Thomas Williams. 

Mr. Hampson was a very intelligent man, who unfortunately 
was not at home at the time of the occurrences, and only had 
evidence on some minor details. 

Mrs. Hampson was very diffuse in her account, and ap- 
peared rather credulous. She looks about 30 years of age. 

The girl, Priscilla Evans, is about 16, very voluble, but gave 
her evidence in a very straightforward maimer, giving me the 
impression that she was telling me what she believed to be the 
truth. She had an excellent character from Air. and Mrs. 
Hampson; and it is mere justice to her to state that the charge 
of complicity with Emma Davies’ trickery, brought against her 

409 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

by the reporters of the Daily News and the Daily Telegraph — 
on the ground of a supposed confession of the waggoner 
Williams, that he had taught his fellow servants ‘how to shift 
thing s about’ — completely broke down under my examination. 
The waggoner denies that he ever said, or could have said, 
any thing of the sort; and his denial was entirely confirmed by 
Mr. Beiliss, the innkeeper, who drove the reporters over from 
Wem, and himself suggested the questions put to the wag- 
goner which led to the reporters’ mistake. 

I could not regard Mr. and Mrs. Lea as good witnesses, 
since their firm conviction of the devil’s agency in the matter 
rendered them too much indisposed to accept any ordinary 
explanation of any of the occurrences to which they referred, 
and they did not bring forward any cases of manifestations 
which took place when Emma Davies was undeniably, accord- 
ing to my opinion, in such a position that she could not have 
produced them. 

According to Mrs. Hampson’s account; the family, with the 
exception of Mr. Hampson, were occupying the parlour on 
Wednesday, October 31st, when suddenly coal was seen to be 
‘alive’ in various parts of the room, apparently having flown 
out of the fire. Nothing unusual was observed that day in 
addition to this, the fire having been removed to the kitchen, 
and coke instead of coal being employed. 

The next day, about four p.m., the family were about to sit 
down to tea, when the saucepan on the fire jumped off, and coal 
began to fly about. A cup and saucer ‘went off’ the table, by 
unseen agency, and they were all so frightened that Emma 
Davies was sent off to Lea’s farm for help. Mrs. H. and Pris- 
cilla retreated to the dairy, whence, it will be seen on reference 
to the map, they had a ftill view of the kitchen table. They 
both state that they saw the crockery rise up off the table and 
fell to the ground. The articles did not go off all at once, but 
one or two at a time. They are quite certain that this hap- 
pened while Emma Davies was absent, fetching Mrs. Lea from 
the neighbouring farm. 

Some of the crockery, on the return of Emma Davies and 
Mrs. Lea, was placed on the table, but again went off. Mrs. 
Lea and Mrs. Hampson then deemed it desirable to go for 

410 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

further assistance, the girls being left behind. This ends Mrs. 
Hampson’s evidence as regards the occurrences of that even- 
ing at the farm. 

Mrs. Hampson also stated that in the morning the baby was 
in its cradle inside the parlour, where it had been placed to be 
out of range of the fire. Mrs. Hampson and the girls were in the 
kitchen, and Emma Davies went in to see after the baby, re- 
turning presently, screaming, saying that the baby was on fire. 
On the various occasions (three or four) that the baby was on 
fire, E. D. was always the one to discover it; and she always had 
time to cause the fire, according to Mrs. Hampson. Once she 
was seen to be shaking the child’s pinafore, which was alight, 
although Mrs. H. had carefully warned her always to ‘crush’ 
fire out. 

Further, on one occasion when E. D. was alone in the par- 
lour, during the manifestations, a noise as of a striking match 
jvas heard, and when Mrs. H. entered the room, there was a 
distinct smell of brimstone, and a used match was found at the 
baby’s head. 

Priscilla Evans added some information with regard to 
articles found on fire, which was corroborated by Mr. Lea. 
Mrs. Hampson was not present, I believe, when they were 
discovered. 

It is well to note that Emma Davies was always the person 
to discover anything on fire, and none of the witnesses could 
state positively that on any single occasion was she in the com- 
pany or in sight of any one when she made the discovery. 

One of the baby’s caps, of a kind of woollen material, and a 
paper mat were found in flames, the flames being very high 
and white, and the articles apparently burning were very litde 
singed when the flames were extinguished. The cap and mat, 
which had both been exposed to the air for some time, were 
shown to me, and I cut off a bit of the cap, which I dipped in 
paraffin, which was largely used at the farm. Lighting it, she, 
Priscilla E., declared it presented exactly the appearance of the 
former blaze, and the bit of cap was of course little singed, 
when the flame was extinguished. Mr. Hampson stated that 
the cap, when shown to him on his return, had a greasy 
feel. 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

The most important piece of evidence that the girl Evans 
contributed is, that when Mrs. H. and Mrs. Lea had left the 
house, the cupboard opposite the dairy door was apparently 
locked by one of them, but afterwards flew open, whereupon 
E. D. going to dose it, became, as it were, rooted to the spot. 
Priscilla tried to pull her away, but the girl Shrieked and said 
she couldn’t move. The cupboard was well stocked with 
crockery, and these things proceeded to come out of the cup- 
board two or three at a time. Priscilla states that E. D. had 
her arms folded all the time, and that she, Priscilla, watched 
her dosdy, and was certain that she did not pull'the things out. 
I should, however, point out that it must have been nearly 
dark at the time. 

With regard to the statement that E. D. was put up to these 
tricks by the waggoner, there appears — as I have already said — 
no evidence for this, and it is almost absurd to suppose a heavy 
rustic capable of giving lessons in legerdemain. 

Priscilla and E. D. appear to have been on rather bad terms, 
and none of the people at the farm gave E. D. a good character. 

Continuing my journey I arrived at Weston Lullingfield, a 
village about five miles from Wood’s Farm. I first called on 
Miss Maddox, a woman of about 40, who had been training 
the youth of Weston for the last 12 years (‘come December’). 
She is rather exdtable, and a woman who would, I think, be 
easily imposed upon. Her evidence is a remarkable illustration 
of the manner in which the sensational newspaper reports 
dwindle down into the commonplace. 

She states that when she visfted the girl, there were about 
20 people standing and sitting about the room, and the girl 
E. D. was wriggling about on her chair in a state of great 
excitement. Miss M. is positive that the chair rose off the 
ground about a foot, but this I imagine a clever child could 
accomplish by a clever ‘kick off’. 

Miss M. then took the child on her lap, and the child’s boots 
flew off, but whether they were securely fastened on her feet, 
or downtrodden at the heels, she cannot say. 

The only further evidence that Miss M. had on the subject 
was that she saw a table (up against a wooden partition) moving 
up and down rather violently, without, she thought, any one 

412 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

being near. She added that the partition seemed ‘bulged in’, 
so that somebody might have been pushing it on the other side 
of the partition. 

She gave E mm a Davies a good character. 

I then visited the girl’s home, but could not see the girl. The 
father, however, came out and spoke to me, but he himself had 
seen nothing. 

The rustics of the village, whom I afterwards interviewed, 
were nearly all unable to sign their names, and their evidence 
is hardly worth recording. One man, who was present with 
Police-constable Taylor when the fender performed feats, 
states that Taylor was sitting on one side of the fire, and E. D. 
on the other, but he could not say how the fender ‘came for- 
ward’, whether parallel to itself, or only in such a mann er that 
the girl might have pushed it out with her foot. 

All the other evidence at this place was of the same unsatis- 
factory nature. 

The next day I drove over with Mr. Maitland to try and see 
Emma Davies, but she would not speak, and was taken up- 
stairs. After the lapse of an hour she reappeared, but we could 
not get anything out of her. 

Summing up, I consider that there is abundant evidence of 
some trickery on the part of the girl E. D., at Wood’s Farm; 
but that some portion of the phenomena cannot be referred to 
this cause if the statements of Mrs. Hampson and Priscilla 
Evans as to what occurred in E. D.’s absence, and the descrip- 
tion given by Priscilla Evans of the crockery coming out of the 
cupboard, can be at all relied on. Still, if the case were an 
isolated one, the evidence is not of so satisfactory a nature as to 
justify the assumption that phenomena unexplainable by 
trickery actually took place; but on the hypothesis that there 
are cases on record in which trickery and genuine preter- 
natural phenomena were combined, this case might, with 
some degree of probability, be included amongst them. 

Frank S. Hughes, B.A. (Cantab) 

December 3rd , 1883 

As exception has been taken to Mr. Hughes’ treatment of 
part of the evidence in this case, on the ground that he was 

413 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

biassed against a belief in supernormal agencies, it seems best 
to quote textually the two passages specially referred to. 

(1) The signed statement by Miss Maddox gives the follow- 
ing version of the ‘levitation’: ‘There were about 20 people 
standing and sitting about the room when Miss Maddox 
entered. The first thing Miss Maddox saw was the chair on 
which the girl sat wriggling about, and once rising a foot from 
the ground, the girl having no point of contact with the ground 
at the time. She was writhing about, and in a state of great 
nervous excitement.’ 

(2) The following passage is from a statement signed by 
Henry and James Lea: ‘Emma Davies was with Mrs. Lea at the 
gate, a long distance off, while the noises continued and things 
came flying out of the window. Things came out after the 
place had been cleared of people.’ 

It will be admitted, I think, that the conditions described 
by Miss Maddox — some twenty people present in the room, 
and Emma Davies twisting and wriggling on her chair in a 
condition of great nervous excitement — were not specially 
favourable for observation. It may be added that under more 
favourable circumstances a phenomenon of the kind which 
Miss Maddox claims to have witnessed is not easy to observe 
with accuracy. As regards the Leas’ statement that Emma 
Davies was at a distance from the house during the progress of 
some of the disturbances it will be remembered that in the 
Worksop case it was shown that memory is apt to be treacher- 
ous on such matters as the presence or absence of particular 
persons at particular times, and the precise sequence of various 
events. A statement of this kind would no doubt be deserving 
of consideration if it emanated from a first-rate witness. But 
Mr. Hughes’ estimate of the Leas as being indifferent wit- 
nesses must be allowed to have weight. 

Upon the whole, after a reperusal of the documents in the 
case, I cannot find that Mr. Hughes has misrepresented the 
evidence in any material particular. As regards the two 
incidents upon which he lays special stress, it may be con- 
sidered that if Emma Davies was able to evade detection when 
closely watched for two or three days by suspicious and edu- 
cated witnesses, it seems not unlikely that she might have 

414 



THE WEM POLTERGEIST 

succeeded in the easier task of eluding the vigilance of Priscilla 
Evans, a young rustic already mystified and excited by the 
marvellous manifestations which she had witnessed, and that 
the crockery which flew out of the cupboard in the twilight 
was merely propelled by the hand of Emma Davies. There 
remains the statement of two witnesses who saw crockery fell 
off the table during Emma Davies’ absence. This statement, 
if accepted literally, is hard to reconcile with the supposition 
of trickery. 

It should be added that though Emma Davies was regarded 
by the doctor who examined her as being quite normal, Mr. 
Hughes, in fete course of his enquiries, found some evidence 
of unusual precocity on her part. Moreover, according to her 
mother’s statement, while she had been a healthy child before 
the outbreak of the disturbances, she afterwards fell into ill- 
health and became subject to fits. It should be added that Miss 
Maddox in her signed account states that, during some of the 
disturbances at which she was present, Emma Davies cried 
out that an old woman was at her, and would not let her 
breathe, and called to her mother to relieve her. 



m 


INDEX 


Amherst Mystery* the Great* 133* 
138-44.359-79 
Atlantic Monthly case* 345-7 
Auk* Great* considered as a witch* 
60 

Axholme* Isle of* 54-5 
Bardili*Dr.*3i9 

Barrett, Sir William* F.R.S.* 135- 
8* 328-40 

Bayswater* Moscow Road* Pol- 
tergeist of* 133-4. 298-9 
Bealings Bells* 67 
Bell-ringing* 67 
Berlioz* Hector* 130 
Bishop* Bridget* 65 
Borley Rectory* Suffolk* most 
haunted house in England* 
33 

Bristow* Mr.* in the Swanland 
case* 70 

Burroughs* Rev. George* a Witch 
of Salem* 61 
Bute* Marquess of* 127 

Calvados* haunted Castle in* 13 1- 
2* 268-87 

Campbell* Gilbert* 305-6 
Carrick* Mary* in the Atlantic 
Monthly case* 67, 345-6 
Cashen’s Gap* talking mongoose 
of. 85, 95* 104, 107-9, 121-2 
Catherine the Great of Russia* 
story of* 26 

Chattox, Old* a Lancashire Witch 
56-7 

Cideville* Cur£ of* 17-20* 140 
Clarke* T. B.* the case of* 68-9 


Copertino* Flying Saint of* 37-8 
Cottin* Angelique* 133-4* 299- 
301 

Cox* Esther, of the Great Am- 
herst Mystery* 138-44* 361- 
79 

Crowe* Mrs. Catherine* 288-327 
Cure of Cideville* 17-20* 140 

Dale, Georgia* hauntings in a 
railway telegraph car at* 69* 
353-5 

Davies* Emma* 352* 406-15 
Demdike* Old* a Lancashire 
Witch, 56-7 

Derrygonnelly case* the* 135-75 

340-4 

Desborough* Nicholas* haunting 
in the house of* 63-4 
Dornoch* last of the Witches 
burnt at* 60 

Drum, the poem* by Miss Edith 
Sitwell* 113-18 

Drummer of Tedworth* the* 113- 
24*134*214-29*304 

Emmerich* Mademoiselle* 301-2 
Enniscorthy case* the* 137-8* 
328-40 

Epworth Rectory* 80-91* 136* 
157-88 

Essex* Witches of* 58* 101-3 

Fischer* Carl* of Stuttgart* 303 
Fives* near Lille* case at* 74 
Flammarion* Camille* Haunted 
Houses * 73* 75* 131-2* 268-87 


417 



INDEX 


Forfar, Witches of, 59 

G., Mr., his adventure in Suma- 
tra, 144-5, 380-6 

Glanvil, Rev. Joseph, author of 
Saducismus Triwnphatiis, 113- 
24, 214-29 

Gowdie, Isobel, the Auldeame 
Witch, 59 

Gruppenbach case, 321 
Hahn, Councillor, of Ingelfingen, 

307-17 

Harvard University, 61 
Haxeyhood, old festival, 55 
Hilton, The Cauld Lad O’, 152-3 
Hinton Ampner, haunting of, 
126-30, 230-67 

Hitler, Adolf, as potential Polter- 
geist, 54 

Hubbell, Mr. Walter, 138-44, 
359-79 

Iceland, Poltergeists in, 66-7 

Jobson, Mary, 322-5 

Kemp, Ursley, a Witch of St. 

Osyth, 101-3 
Keppoch case, 305 
Keraer, Dr., 321 

Khayn, Fraulein, governess of 
Catherine the Great, 26 

Lang, Andrew, Cock Lane and 
Common Sense , 31-2 
Liguori, St. Alphonso, 38 
Livry, Emma, dancer, 40 

Malking Tower, 55-6, 15 1 
March, Elwin, 347-51 
MarcineUe, in Belgium, stone 
throwing at, 71 

Mather, Increase and Cotton, 61-3 
Molesworth, Captain, 317-8 
Mompesson, Mr., 113-24, 134, 
214-29 


Mongoose, the talking, 85, 95, 
104, 107-9, 121-2 
Moore, Major Edward, F.R.S., 67 
Morse, William, haunting in the 
house of, 62 

Murray, Miss Margaret, 126 
Mystire , Le Parc du, 149-50 

Nijinski, Vaslav, 39 

Ointment, flying, 126 

Osyth, St., Witches of, 58-9, 101-3 

Palmisano Signar Paolo, story of, 
171 

Paul I, Czar, 28-30 
Pendle, forest of, 55-6, 15 1 
Peter III, Czar, 28 
Phelps case, 45-54, 62, 74, 121 
Pirano, luminous woman of, 34 
Plotitsine, Maxime Koutzmine, 
44-5 

Portland, Oregon, case, 347-53 
Potts, Thomas, chronicle of the 
Lancashire Witches, 56-7 
Price, Mr. Harry, 34-6 
Procter, Mr. Joseph, of Willing- 
ton Mill, 91-100, 189-213 

Rachilde, Madame, 149-50 
Rambouillet, Poltergeist of, 134 
Randall, in the Enniscorthy case, 
68, 328-40 

Ricketts, Mrs., the case of, 126- 
130, 230-67 
Rieger, Barbara, 321 
Ringcroft, in Galloway, Polter- 
geist of, 79, 84 

Rossetti, Christina, Goblin Mar- 
ket of, 59 

Ruxton, Dr. Buck, 43 

Saducismus Triumphatus , 113-24 
St. Vincent, Earl, 126-30 
Salem, Witches of, 60-3 
Saragossa Ghost, the, 107 
Schlotterbeck, 306 



INDEX 


Schuppart, Professor, 134, 304- 
5 

Shchapoff, Mme, case of, 74-5 
Skopiti, 44-5 
Stauntons, the, 42-3 
Stockwell Ghost, the, 132-3, 289- 

98. 303 

Style, Elizabeth, of Stoke Trister 
in the County of Somerset, 
124-6 

Sumatra, case from, 380-6 
Swanland, near Hull, carpenter’s 
shop at, 70-3 

Tackley in Oxfordshire, haunt- 
ings at, 127 

Taglioni, Marie, 39-40 
Teed, Daniel, of Amherst, 359- 
79 

Therese of Lisieux, St., 36 
Toadpool Farm, the Poltergeist 
of, 65—6 


Vestris, Auguste, dancer, 38-9 
Vienna, Poltergeist, the, 356-8 

Wamdorfer, Mr., 356-8 
Weir, Major, a Witch of Edin- 
burgh, 59 

Wem, Poltergeist at, 133, 146-7, 
352,404-15 

Wesley, John, a long note from 
his Journal, 101-2, 157-88 
Wesley, Samuel, 157-88, 304 
Weston, ghost at, 25-8 
White, Joe, of Worksop case, 387- 
404 

Wildin, Rosina, 320-4 
Willington Mill, 91-100, 104-12, 
189-213 

Wincanton, the Witch of, 125-6 
Worksop, Poltergeist of, 145-6, 

387-404 

Zugun, Eleanore, Rumanian 
Poltergeist, 48, 62 


419 




AIDE-de-CAMP’S LIBRARY 


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